Soft and Hard Skills for Leading Healthcare Administrators

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranks healthcare administration as one of the top 20 fastest growing industries for the coming decade, projecting explosive growth — and with it, impressive earning potential — that makes this field attractive to students who are passionate about improving healthcare outcomes for patients. However, in order to excel in this competitive and fast-paced industry where the pressure can be intense, it’s essential to master some vital skills and core competencies that will help you distinguish yourself from other job applicants, residency applicants, or fellowship candidates. Continue reading for an overview of six crucial skills in healthcare administration — and, even more importantly, the steps you can take to acquire (or improve) them.

6 Healthcare Administration Skills to Master for a Successful Career

Healthcare administration is an exciting interdisciplinary field that encompasses a wide assortment of diverse careers, with related occupations ranging from nursing director and medical records manager to others like chief operations officer and chief executive officer. Depending on the specific position you are applying to, each employer will be looking for a slightly different set of skills, qualifications, and professional backgrounds in their ideal candidate. For instance, the skills required for hospital administrators differ from those required of a chief operating officer. 

With that being said, there are still a few essential health administration skills that are foundational to nearly all professions within the industry. No matter which branch or niche of healthcare administration you ultimately decide to explore, you’ll make yourself a more marketable, better qualified candidate by mastering as many of the following hard and soft skills as possible. 

What Are the Most Important Soft and Hard Skills for Healthcare Administration? 

Before we answer that question, let’s take a moment to clarify the difference between “hard” and “soft” skills — which you’ll need both of, if your career goal is to become a leading, successful healthcare administrator. 

In the context of a resume, “hard” skills are skills that, as explains, involve “specific technical knowledge and training,” like the ability to speak a language or use a computer program. In other words, you can think of hard skills as the necessary technical skills for healthcare administrators. 

“Soft” skills are more difficult to define, but no less important to master or utilize. Compared to technical or hard skills like knowing how to write code, “soft” skills are more like styles of thinking and personality traits that are conducive to success in the workplace, such as being reliable or having the ability to think creatively.

Other than dependability and creativity, what are some other characteristics of a successful healthcare administrator? In other words, what types of soft skills should a health administrator possess? Here are a few examples, along with some examples of hard skills that can also help your resume stand out from the stack. 

  1. A strong sense of professional and ethical integrity. As a healthcare administrator, you may be in a leadership role supervising, directing, and/or coordinating with entities like insurance and pharmaceutical companies. An awareness of — and unwavering commitment to — appropriate ethical standards is vital for success. 
  2. An awareness of issues related to workplace diversity. Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers serve diverse patient populations. To administer care efficiently, you must have a strong awareness of any cultural, religious, or socioeconomic factors that might make it more difficult for patients to request or access treatment.  
  3. Business acumen. Healthcare administrators are responsible for overseeing and coordinating business development goals, such as setting financial targets and implementing effective strategies to reach them. Business acumen is imperative for any administrative role that involves budgeting, billing, contracting, or improving performance and efficiency. 
  4. Change management skills. The healthcare industry evolves as rapidly as the technology it depends upon. As a healthcare administrator, you need to ensure that your team and facility are staying abreast not only of technological developments, but also regulatory and legislative changes. 
  5. Emotional intelligence and the ability to empathize with others. Healthcare administrators interact not only with employees and team members, but patients and their families — many of whom are coping with issues like loss, financial stress, or anxiety about a loved one’s condition or prognosis. In these sensitive situations, having a strong sense of empathy is absolutely vital. 
  6. Strong communication skills. As a healthcare administrator, you could be in an executive or leadership position coordinating multiple employees, departments, or teams. You’ll need the ability to communicate effectively not only with your staff members, but also patients and family members; insurance and pharmaceutical representatives or other third parties; and various publications and industry news outlets.

Of course, this isn’t a complete or exhaustive list of all soft and hard skills necessary for a successful career in health administration. For instance, you should also look to cultivate skills such as goal-setting, task delegation, policy development, and data analysis. 

Take the first step by applying to an accredited healthcare administration program at National University, such as our Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA) or Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), both of which are offered through the College of Law and Public Service. At both the graduate and undergraduate levels, our challenging, fast-paced courses are designed to prepare you with all the vital skills you need to distinguish yourself in a selective and competitive field. Successful students will achieve learning outcomes like using analytical skills to solve complex problems; conducting financial analyses to make informed, long-term investment and budgetary decisions; and gaining the ability to accurately track and analyze quantitative and qualitative healthcare data. And with 100% online course options available, plus a range of scholarships and financial aid resources, it’s never been easier to get the ball rolling. 

Accelerate Your Career with a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Health Administration from an Accredited Program

Top leaders in healthcare administration are able to effectively synthesize hard and soft skills in order to solve complex problems, resolve workplace conflicts, implement business strategies, build productive teams, and achieve countless other long- and short-term goals. Whether you’re brand new to the field and are adding core skills to your repertoire, or you’re a highly experienced administrator who’s looking to sharpen and diversify your professional talents, our graduate and undergraduate programs will help you develop and strengthen key health administration skills like communication, problem-solving, data analysis, and more. 

Discover how far you can advance your career in just 30 days with our fast-paced courses. Learn more about our healthcare administration programs by contacting our admissions office or starting your application today.

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