Students interested in pursuing healthcare management roles likely have questions about what it’s like to work in a hospital. Working in fast-paced healthcare environments such as hospitals and urgent care clinics can be extremely gratifying. Healthcare managers spend their days working alongside a diverse team of professionals that includes nurses, doctors, surgeons, and pharmacists — professionals who chose their career path to make a difference in people’s lives.
Job opportunities in healthcare are extensive. There are about 6,100 hospitals and 924,000 hospital beds in the U.S., according to data from the American Hospital Association, and hospital staff members serve more than 36 million patients per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that because the baby boom generation is aging and living longer, demand for qualified healthcare workers, including healthcare managers, will continue to be strong.
Aspiring healthcare managers should start by developing the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed. Earning a degree such as Maryville University’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management prepares graduates to pursue jobs in the field.
What It’s Like to Work in a Hospital
The work environment for hospital-employed healthcare management professionals — including hospital administrators, health managers, emergency room managers, and nursing managers — can vary based on several factors, such as facility size; whether the hospital is a public, private, or government institution; and whether the facility has an on-site emergency room or urgent care clinic. However, most hospital work environments share the following traits:
- Twenty-four-hour operations
- Strict sanitation protocols
- A diverse staff that includes doctors, surgeons, healthcare managers, administrative staff, janitors, cafeteria workers, and pharmacists
- High levels of activity, such as patient admissions, around-the-clock laboratory testing, X-rays and MRI scans, and surgeries
What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Working in a Hospital?
As with any work environment, a hospital has both benefits and challenges. Examples of the pros and cons of choosing a healthcare management career include the following:
Benefits of Working in a Hospital
One of the most notable benefits of working in a hospital is that the healthcare industry has historically been largely recession-proof. In addition, the BLS projects that job growth in the healthcare field will be much faster than the average projected for all jobs. Other benefits include:
- Helping People Who Have Severe Injuries or Illnesses: Healthcare management professionals may not be on the front lines of patient care, but they help to ensure that patients have the best care and recovery experience possible. Individuals who choose this career path take great pride in the role they play in helping people in need.
- Working with a Diverse Team of Caregivers: Healthcare managers work alongside doctors, pharmacists, lab technicians, receptionists, cafeteria workers, and surgeons, among many others. Individuals working in hospitals coexist as part of a team that’s aimed toward the same goal.
- Flexible Schedule Options: Hospitals are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Individuals who prefer to work nights and weekends often can have a nonstandard, flexible work schedule.
- Favorable Job Growth Projections: The BLS reports that employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow by 32% between 2019 and 2029, far faster than the job market as a whole. Job prospects in the field are expected to be favorable far into the future, though growth in some segments has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Strong Income Prospects: The BLS reports the median annual salary of medical and health services managers as $100,980 as of May 2019. Salaries vary depending on place of employment, location, and experience and education levels. According to the BLS, about one-third of managers work in a hospital setting.
Challenges of Working in a Hospital
Healthcare professionals can experience challenges in the workplace, such as staffing shortages, work overload, and stress and frustration when patients do not respond to treatment. Other challenges may include:
- Maintaining Compliance with Safety and Reporting Regulations: Ensuring continued compliance with state and federal healthcare laws and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards can be daunting. Federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have strict requirements for monitoring patient safety and quality of care. OSHA compliance is crucial for both risk management and keeping worker’s compensation costs low.
- Keeping Up with Costly New Technologies: A 2019 study published in the journal Applied Ergonomics found that care managers report a wide range of technology-related barriers in caring for their patients, including lack of access to data and limited usability of technologies. Hospital budgetary constraints are often an obstacle to technological upgrades.
- Workforce Shortages and Burnout: The U.S. is experiencing shortages of healthcare workers in certain regions and professional areas. Workforce shortages can contribute to increased workloads for hospital staff members, which can lead to high levels of turnover and employee burnout.
How a Healthcare Management Degree Prepares You to Work in a Hospital
Professionals interested in working in healthcare management should start by developing the skills, capabilities, and knowledge they’ll need to succeed. As the U.S. population ages, demand for healthcare will continue to grow, and healthcare’s business and managerial processes will become increasingly complex.
A degree in a related field, such as Maryville’s bachelor’s in healthcare management, prepares graduates for the wide variety of tasks involved in the business of healthcare, with a foundation in key skills:
- Technical Skills: Today’s healthcare managers need familiarity with a wide range of health informatics topics, such as the health information exchange, electronic health records, and how modern technology can impact both quality of care and patient safety. Coursework in Maryville’s program prepares graduates to understand how to assess health information technology needs, plan for system acquisitions, and implement new systems.
- Communication Skills: Professionals pursuing this career path are often required to communicate complex subject matter in nontechnical, easy-to-understand language. Maryville’s students are taught personal communication skills and the importance of collaborative problem-solving.
- Human Resource Management: Graduates of Maryville’s bachelor’s in healthcare management program are educated in aspects of human resource management, such as recruiting, onboarding, training, and evaluating best practices.
- Financial Management: Coursework in this program teaches students the fundamentals of key financial management principles, such as cost analysis, budgeting, and resource allocation, and how to apply them in a healthcare environment.
While some high-level roles require applicants to have earned an advanced degree such as a Master of Health Administration, the Bachelor of Science provides a powerful foundation that can lead to any of a number of career options.
Your Path Toward a New Career Starts at Maryville
Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management degree program has been designed to prepare graduates with the foundational skills they’ll need to run and manage a healthcare business. The curriculum includes courses on topics such as population health management, financial management in healthcare, patient partnerships, and software and technology in healthcare, providing students with strategic insights that can be applied to a healthcare management career path.
Are you ready to take the first brave step toward the career you’ve been dreaming of? Discover how Maryville’s online Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management can help you pursue your professional goals.