MHA Resources


Career Spotlight – Emergency Department Administrator

On any given night, hospital emergency departments can become very busy. As doctors and nurses provide medical treatment, Emergency Department administrators work in the background to ensure all aspects of patient care are running smoothly. Emergency Department (ED) administrators have an array of responsibilities in addition to coordinating care in an emergency room. They can be registered nurses who handle administrative work including coordinating the staff schedules, overseeing employee training, and setting and enforcing policies. In some facilities, they assist in the budgeting process and follow through on federal and state regulations. They also assist in patient care, as needed.

Emergency Department administrators work in the background to make sure all aspects of patient care run smoothly

Day in the Life of an Emergency Department Administrator

A workday for an ED administrator can start at any time. In the case of a major medical crisis, ED administrators might be called into work in the early hours of the morning. On a typical workday, however, their schedules tend to be more stable. When arriving at work, most ED administrators have a quick meeting with previous shift managers to get a handle on the cases. This meeting allows the incoming ED administrator to prioritize staffing to ensure patient care is optimized. Through the course of the day, ED administrators hold one-on-one meetings with staff, schedule continuing education sessions for nurses, and attend functions as a staff representative. In a recent job post for an ED administrator, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital said the administrator’s primary responsibility is for the “implementation of the mission, vision, philosophy, core values, and standards of practice for all staff within their department or unit.” The hospital also said the ideal candidate would “serve as a catalyst and role model, provide administrative leadership and direction.” In general, ED administrators take on the following primary tasks:

• Administrative From overseeing the proper disposition of medical records to screening and keeping track of medical supplies and narcotics, ED administrators are responsible for the business side of healthcare while keeping patient interests in mind. The position also includes ensuring state and federal health regulations are met.

• Budgeting and Planning ED administrators are expected to have some finance knowledge. They create budgets and manage overall finances for their departments. They also approve spending and review expenditure requests.

• Staff Management ED administrators lead and supervise personnel that includes nurses, nursing assistants, medical technicians, and medical aides. They make schedules, review assignments, confer on patient care, review treatment protocols, and may, at times, help in bedside care.

Steps to Becoming an Emergency Department Administrator

ED administrators can often start their career paths as registered nurses (RN), preferably with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. To accomplish this, students must successfully complete an accredited RN training program, such as one of Maryville University’s nursing programs, pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and meet any additional state requirements. Many ED administrators spend three to five years working as clinical nurses, engaged in direct patient care. They work in a variety of areas, including obstetrics, triage, and surgical care, for a broad-based view of patient care. Moving into an ED administrative position also requires a Master of Health Administration degree. Maryville University’s online MHA program prepares students for a variety of healthcare positions with concentrations that include Data Management, Healthcare Strategies, Population Management and Senior Services. Maryville’s General MHA allows students to individualize their education by choosing personalized specialty concentrations. Most employers seeking ED administrators expect candidates to have a comprehensive knowledge of the inner-workings of a facility, as well as strong critical-thinking and decision-making skills. They expect candidates to have leadership experience, familiarity with nursing concepts, practices, and procedures, as well as a background in policy and healthcare management.

Emergency Department Administrator Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, ED administrators earned an averaged of $96,540 a year in 2016. The job outlook is expected to grow 17 percent by 2024, “much faster than the average for all occupations,” the Labor Department said. Driving the job growth is an expected shortage of some one million experienced nurses by 2022. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) said the shortage problem is complicated by changes in the U.S. health insurance system and general population aging. “As the large baby-boom population ages and people remain active later in life, the healthcare industry as a whole will see an increase in the demand for medical services,” the Labor Department said.

Maryville University’s online Master of Health Administration

Through Maryville University’s online MHA program, students can learn all of the essentials to future management roles in as few as two years. The 100-percent online curriculum allows students to tackle education goals without attending on-campus classes. The curriculum, based on the American College of Healthcare Executives’ 10 key knowledge areas, include core classes in Healthcare Law, Ethics and Risk Management, and Healthcare Financial Management. Concentration coursework includes Community Health, Healthcare Analytics, and Healthcare Marketing classes. Sources: