Advancing your career from a staff position to one in administration can be challenging, especially for those of you that have little to no experience.
For instance, in healthcare administration, it may come as no surprise that most employers are searching for specific skills and experience that you may feel you lack.
We are here to tell you that you do not need to have direct experience in healthcare administration to make that leap in your career. Every healthcare administrator at one point had no direct experience. However, they could follow these steps to land them that job and advance their career.
While there is no shortcut or secret to becoming a healthcare administrator, we do have proven tips on how you can get there with little to no experience. Before we dive into strategies for success, it’s important to clarify who this article is for to ensure you get the best experience out of reading this.
Healthcare Administration vs. Healthcare Management
It’s best to explain what healthcare administration is and how it differs from healthcare management. More times than not, people often confuse or interchange the two titles. It’s important to understand there is a significant difference between them.
Healthcare management focuses on larger-scale projects that will affect the operations of an institution or organization. They have a system-wide vision, working on a larger scale and viewpoint. They do not deal with staffing concerns or smaller departmental needs either. On the other hand, healthcare administration deals with smaller department-specific needs and care.
A healthcare administrator typically directly manages clinical and non-clinical staff in a healthcare setting. This role can be found in hospitals, clinics, and even educational institutions. The healthcare administrator handles the day-to-day needs of a unit or department while ensuring staffing is adequate and maintaining its goals or metrics specific to said area of expertise.
The clarification of the two roles allows one to see that the bridge from a staff position to a healthcare administration position without experience is not impossible. In fact, with the right tools in your kit and background, it is easily obtainable.
Regardless of the role you currently have or have had, the key skills listed below will allow you to successfully bridge your experience into an administrative position.
Prior work skills preferred in healthcare administration include:
- Analytical skills
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Project management
- Policy development
- Problem-solving skills
- Recruitment and interviewing skills
Leverage your Experience
Initially, that list may seem intimidating and daunting. However, it’s likely that you have had experience with most of the items in one way or another. The key is to explain how these skills can be leveraged to ensure you will be successful in your new career. These skills need to be demonstrated in your resume, application and you will need to be versed in speaking to them during the interview process.
You must practice bridging your answers from your experience into the role you are seeking. If you fail to communicate this way in your interview, chances are you will not be successful in your pursuit.
Bridging the Gap
Bridging your answers is a skill you must practice to succeed in the interview process. The idea is to lead your answer to most questions to what you want to focus on.
When used correctly, you will feel more confident and have more control over the interview while focusing on the key strengths that you listed on your resume or application.
A few interview question examples
“When have you dealt with a poor performing employee and how did you handle the situation?”
“In my experience” or “From my perspective”
These are two great ways to start your answer, which puts you in the driver’s seat.
“In my experience as a charge nurse on a busy surgical unit, I have had to confront other staff due to poor performance metrics. I always ensure to listen first to understand their perspective before making any judgments. If necessary, I would discipline a said employee based on the institution’s policy and guidelines. I would then monitor the staff in the following weeks to improve. I believe this highlights my communication and interpersonal skills as well as my ability to solve problems on the fly.”
Mastering this technique will significantly improve your ability to interview and allow you the advantage of steering your answers to any question thrown your way. Always focus on your strengths when ending the answer to leave a positive and strong impression on your interviewer.
Additional Support: Obtain an Advanced Degree in Your Field
Often one of the best ways to prove you are the right person for the job is with a diploma or certificate. Pursuing an advanced degree or continuing your education with healthcare administration and other leadership skills in mind will greatly improve the chances of landing that job without direct experience in the role.
Continuing education allows you to learn from others in your field while studying the latest evidence-based literature to ensure your success upon completion.
Consider Pursuing a Master’s Program
If you want to increase your odds of getting hired without healthcare administration experience, consider joining a master’s program. The more advanced your education is, the more impressive your resume will look. Therefore, the better your odds are of getting a job in healthcare administration with no experience.
You can optionally even pursue a master’s program online while you’re working in your current job.
Internships and Mentorships
Searching for local administrative internships or mentor programs is another great way to ensure you will be ready for the change in your career. While similar to an advanced degree, you are getting direct hands-on experience with a respected individual within your field that can guide you along your path.
Internships and mentorships are crucial to your professional development. They will expose you to new and innovative ways of thinking.
You will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses within healthcare administration. That knowledge will allow you to improve your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths. A bonus to pursuing this route is that you will have someone by your side that can help gauge your progress on goals you have set for yourself.
What are Some Entry-Level Healthcare Administration Positions?
- Administrative Assistant
- Human Resource Assistant
- Health Insurance Underwriter
- Medical Records Technician
- Medical Assistant
- Patient Services Representative
- Many, many more
What is the Job Outlook for Healthcare Administration?
If you’re considering making a jump into the field of healthcare administration, you’re looking in the right direction. The job field is growing at a staggering rate and is expected to continue on that trajectory.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare administration is expected to see a job growth rate of 17% by 2024.
A big reason for this expected growth rate is due to baby boomers. They play a two-part role in the explosion of health administration jobs. Baby boomers are aging, and many of them will need healthcare in the years soon to come.
Many current health administration positions are also held by baby boomers or those nearing retirement age. As these individuals retire shortly, their positions will need to be filled.
Healthcare Administration Salary and Benefits
The median salary for a healthcare administrator in the United States is $70,000 a year. It will fluctuate depending on your specific role and what part of your country. One of the greatest benefits of seeking a role in healthcare administration is the room for professional development and growth within your institution.
Depending on your role or the facility you work at, the best entry-level roles in healthcare administration are as an educator or a shift lead. This will put you in a position to succeed without feeling overwhelmed or under-supported while developing the key skills needed for professional development.
Hospitals are where the big bucks are made in health administration, with the median annual salary being $104,000. Nursing homes are slightly less at $80,000 as a median salary.
Keep in mind that these aren’t entry-level salaries, but it’s what you can expect to make as your career progresses.