This lesson introduces the roles served by management and managers in the healthcare field. It also describes the unique qualifications and challenges that apply to this managerial role.
Imagine you are managing a large grocery store.
Perhaps you are already familiar with this role. You have many employees working different shifts, all with different needs. You must make sure that everyone works safely and provides quality customer service.
You keep track of several different food and goods orders and deliveries. You must collaborate with advertising consultants, corporate liaisons, health inspectors, and of course angry customers. This is not an easy job, but that’s why you get paid the ”big bucks” as your employees like to remind you, right?Now imagine that instead of a grocery store, you manage a hospital unit. Instead of bread and apples, your products are highly controlled medications and risky medical procedures. Your place of business never closes, and your customers put their lives in your hands. Stress and responsibility take on a whole new meaning when it comes to managing in healthcare.
Serving in a management role in healthcare requires a dual set of skills.
Not only does a manager need to be proficient in leadership, business, and communication, but he or she also needs to have a strong healthcare background such as medicine, pharmacy, or nursing. While job requirements may differ depending on the work area, an advanced degree and ample experience in the field being managed is generally required.As with any organization, there are various levels of management within health care. These levels may range from management of a single hospital unit or department to managing a large service line or an entire hospital. Qualifications vary depending on the level of management.Healthcare managers have various roles and responsibilities within their organization. The first role is managing personnel.
The manager may oversee the work of different types of personnel within their department such as clerks, technicians, and licensed professionals, like nurses or pharmacists. Daily management of employees involves everything from staffing and payroll to performance evaluations and conflict management.Healthcare managers are accountable for monitoring quality in their work area and adherence to regulations. Healthcare organizations must comply with government regulations as well as those required by accrediting bodies like the Joint Commission. This may include measures of patient care quality and environmental safety. Managers must also ensure that their employees maintain required licenses and certifications to perform their specific duties and receive mandatory education and training.Participating in organizational goals and planning is another role of the healthcare manager.
As administrators within the healthcare organization, managers help to set goals and implement improvement processes on the organizational level. It’s usually the responsibility of management to disseminate important information to their employees and ensure that work in their areas is in line with larger organizational goals.
Balancing competing priorities is the major challenge in any management role. Most managers must answer to both higher administrators above them as well as the employees that they oversee. Healthcare is no exception. Healthcare managers often must comply with the priorities and demands of hospital executives as well as government regulations. This can be difficult when those priorities are not impactful or meaningful to front-line staff.
For example nursing administrators may be focused on improving patient satisfaction scores and require all employees to attend customer service training. However, front-line staff may be more concerned with staffing and low morale issues that are only made worse by taking employees away from work for training. Trying to meet the needs of both parties is a constant challenge for managers.
The most prominent challenge for healthcare managers may be the elevated level of stress related to the environment itself. Most healthcare facilities are 24/7 operations. This means business and employee concerns never rest and managers are always on call. In addition to this, healthcare is a high-stakes environment. The operation of a hospital may literally mean life and death. When an area does not perform well or safely, the customer can be in danger. Not only is this a moral issue, but it can become a legal one as well.
To recap, management can be a tough position in any field, but healthcare has unique challenges and requirements. Managers and administrators in healthcare must possess leadership and communication skills as well as knowledge and experience within their fields to be successful. Healthcare managers are responsible for managing personnel and everyday operations, as well broader organizational goals and ensuring quality care.
They are challenged to balance the demands of their organization and superiors with the needs of their employees in a high stress, high stakes environment.