Friday, July 20, 2012

Running A Hospital

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By Vada Mencer

Running a hospital is an exercise in chaos management. While a large part of the job is business, the remainder of the job involves managing departments full of talented people who are fighting a war against disease and injury. The person charged with making this army run smoothly and efficiently is the hospital administrator.

If you forget about that fact that hospitals deal with life and death situations on a daily basis which causes a sense of pressure and urgency few jobs can match, the hospital administrator still has a challenging job. Entire departments are competing for finite resources, budget, space and time to accomplish their critical goals, and it's the job of the administrator to coordinate that. In addition, they are responsible for managing the business aspects of the medical facility.

Most hospital administrators have years of work experience and either a Master of Health Administration (MHA) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a healthcare focus. The MHA is oriented toward healthcare policy, while the MBA Healthcare has a broader focus on all the business aspects. Ultimately the MBA is more versatile.

Leadership is critical when running a hospital. It takes a strong willed person to survive the pressure of working in an emergency medical environment where life and death situations are occurring daily. A hospital is filled with these strong willed people, and they are constantly struggling to meet the needs of their patients. A strong leader is necessary to keep these people struggling toward a common goal instead of inadvertently struggling against one another.

The main tool a hospital administrator uses to carry out his will is drafting and implementing policy. Policy falls somewhere between a rulebook and a mission statement. It creates a game plan for how the various departments should operate. The primary focus of good policy promotes the care of the hospital, the staff and the patients.

A hospital administrator's day consists of two elements, the planned and the reaction. The planned part of the job consists of dealing with all the business aspects (staffing, finance, accounting, budgets, marketing, customer service, etc.) as well as drafting, implementing and refining policy. The reactionary component involves helping all the different departments adapt to the emergency situations that are a constantly evolving.

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