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A Day in the Life of a Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators must expect the unexpected each and every day of every week. On Monday, a hospital administrator is hyper-focused on hiring a new cardiologist. On Tuesday, it is time to revisit the budget and crack down on the departments that need to adhere to tighter spending plans. By Friday, they have a disaster preparedness meeting, they must create a new training policy, and conduct a compliance check.

Along with the responsibilities listed above, hospital administrators maintain the overall health and well-being of the facilities in which they work, ensuring they stay at the forefront of cutting-edge medicine and healthcare delivery. They also handle all essential duties, including:

  • Budgeting and reports
  • Operational obligations
  • Management of all staff 

The diligent and consistent completion of all of these tasks combined helps keep a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week facility running and thriving smoothly.1

Although professionally rewarding, administrators can have an extremely demanding role. Being a successful administrator requires leadership, charisma, and knowledge of many aspects of the healthcare and business sectors. It also requires ensuring that their hospital operates efficiently and cohesively while always offering the highest standard of care.

A brief overview of an administrator's duties

Hospital administrators can sometimes be referred to as healthcare administrators or medical and health services managers. Whichever title they take on, their overall goals are to plan, direct, and coordinate medical services for their facility, successfully.

Depending on the healthcare facility’s size and setting, certain administrators may manage an entire facility, a specific department, or just a detailed group of doctors. Most importantly, administrators must ensure that facilities and their respective employees quickly comply with changes in regulations, technology, and healthcare laws1.

Administrators don’t just work at hospitals. They can work at drug treatment facilities, nursing homes, and even outpatient clinics.

What do hospital administrators do on an average day?

Hospital administrators communicate daily with a host of hospital workers1, including:

  • Doctors
  • Department heads
  • Nurses
  • Lab technicians
  • Imaging technologists

They may also meet with patients, insurance company representatives, board members, and vendors. Oftentimes, they meet with professionals that can provide updates on legal and regulatory changes impacting the healthcare sector. This information is typically shared with the respective parties within their facility and vendors who frequent the facility.

Other duties might include:1

  • Developing departmental goals and objectives
  • Ensuring that the hospital remains compliant with all laws, regulations, and policies
  • Improving efficiency and quality in delivering patient care
  • Recruiting, training, and supervising staff members as well as creating work schedules
  • Managing the hospital’s finances, including patient fees, department budgets, and bills
  • Reviewing managed care contracts
  • Representing the hospital at investor meetings, conferences, training, and governing bodies
  • Keeping records of hospital services, such as the number of inpatient beds used

Schedules of an administrator

Though many hospital administrators1 are scheduled eight-hours shifts during regular business hours each day, most work much longer hours within their facilities. Extended work hours are especially true in the early years of their careers while they’re still training and learning the nature of their role.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 3 in 10 managers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2016 alone.1  

Administrators that work at larger hospitals or in major metropolitan areas are more likely to work longer hours than those that work at smaller or more rural facilities. Administrators that work in larger hospitals should also expect to take some calls or inquiries after-hours. These after-hour calls are often due to the fast-paced nature of the environment. Sometimes administrators need to be reached to handle emergencies, resolve disputes, and make decisions. Crisis management is an important part of their role.

The future of the role

The role that hospital administrators play in their respective facilities is vital. They can expect to stay very busy now and in the future.

Between 2016 and 2026, employment of health service managers is expected to rise by 20%, which is much faster than many other occupations1 in and outside of the healthcare industry. The extreme growth is driven by increased demand for medical services due to the large, aging baby-boomer population and the large number of individuals who remain active later in their lives.

As the need for healthcare services continue to rise, hospitals and other medical facilities will have a greater need for administrators to successfully manage their facilities.

Challenging but rewarding

Hospital administrators are the hearts of facilities, leading them with professionalism, precision, and passion. Being compassionate, detail-oriented, and analytical are some of the most important traits found in a successful hospital administrator.

Just like CEOs of major brands, hospital administrators have a great deal of power by way of creating policies and procedures that impact every hospital employee and the patients they serve every single day.

References:

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Handbook, Medical and Health Services Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-2 Web. Last modified April 12, 2019.