How to get a job in healthcare administration with no experience

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.  In healthcare administration, for instance, 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 were able to 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, I want to clarify who this article is for to ensure you get the best experience out of reading this.

Healthcare administration vs healthcare management

I think 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 is 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 vision that is system-wide allowing them to work on a larger scale and viewpoint.  They do not deal with staffing concerns or smaller departmental needs either.

Healthcare administration on the other hand deals with smaller department-specific needs and care.  A healthcare administrator typically directly manages both clinical and non-clinical staff in a healthcare setting.  This role can be found in hospitals, clinics, and even educational institutions as well.  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 in the past key skills listed below will allow you to successfully bridge your experience into an administrative position.

Prior work skills found to be preferred in healthcare administration

·                Analytical skills

·                Communication and interpersonal skills

·                Project management

·                Scheduling

·                Education

·                Policy development

·                Problem-solving skills

·                Recruitment and interviewing skills

Leverage your experience

Initially, that list may seem intimidating and daunting, however, I am certain you have had experience with most of the items in one way or another.  The key is to be confident with explaining 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 as well.

It is crucial for you to 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. 

Save our infographic for a quick guide!

Bridging the Gap

Bridging your answers is a skill you must practice to be successful 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

Interviewer:

“When have you dealt with a poor performing employee and how did you handle the situation?”

You:

“In my experience” or “From my perspective”

These are two great ways to start your answer and this puts you in the driver’s seat. 

Full example:

“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 said employee based on the institution’s policy and guidelines.  I would then monitor the staff in the following weeks to ensure they are improving.  I believe this highlights my communication and interpersonal skills as well as my ability to problems solve 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  

Oftentimes 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 that you can land 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. 

Don’t forget internships and mentors

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 then give you the opportunity to improve your weakness 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.

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 the country you are in.  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 what your role is or the facility you work at some of the best entry-level roles in healthcare administration are those as an educator or a shift lead of some form.  This will put you in a position to be successful without feeling overwhelmed or under-supported while developing the key skills needed for professional development.

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