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What Is a Practice Administrator?

Practice administrators, also known as medical office managers, health services managers, or office administrators, serve as the administrative head of a medical facility.

Practice administrator jobs can be found in doctor’s offices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, or urgent care centers. Practice administrators typically work alongside medical practitioners and lead a team of office support staff, which may include schedulers, coders, and front office workers.

Because of the wide range of medical facility types, practice administrator jobs can have varying levels of responsibility and scope. Typical practice administrator jobs are found in private medical practices, while a more experienced practice administrator might work within a department in a larger hospital or facility.

The exact role and duties of a practice administrator will vary, but generally, practice administrator jobs will handle the business aspects of a medical practice or health clinic. These duties could include business management, insurance billing, payroll, HR functions, supervising front office functions, and general administrative support.

What Do People In Practice Administrator Jobs Do?

People in practice administrator jobs generally work alongside medical professionals and oversee non-medical staff as well. Physicians usually need a practice administrator on board to create, manage, and implement the functions and goals of the medical practice or clinic.

Practice administrators are typically responsible for choosing the trajectory of the medical practice as well as managing the operating budget for the organization. These individuals may also be involved in the HR duties of the office.

In an HR capacity, practice administrators may be in charge of the hiring, firing, and training aspects of employee retention. They may also be in charge of coordinating the master schedule for said employees and ensuring shift coverage.

Practice administrators also work a lot with compliance laws and ensure that the facility and everyone working within it is properly certified. The practice administrator may also represent the facility on governing boards or at stakeholder meetings.

Although practice administrators usually work with doctors, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals, they may also occasionally work with patients or insurance agents regarding billing, copays, or other financial transactions.

Practice administrators are also in charge of filing and organizing patient medical records, although many times a specific individual may be hired for this area.

Where Do People In Practice Administrator Jobs Work?

Practice administrators usually work alongside a team of medical professionals, usually grouped by specialty. Often, a practice administrator works as the administrative head of a freestanding physician’s office, but practice administrators also work within hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, or the government.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most practice administrators across the county work within hospitals. Any organization of physicians or other healthcare providers, including nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, will need to employ a practice administrator.

What Degree is Required To Become a Practice Administrator?

There’s no specific degree needed to become a practice administrator. Practice administrators typically have a Bachelor’s degree and five or fewer years of related work experience.

While there is no specific degree required, certain degrees and certifications may make job seekers more competitive in the market. Degrees in Health Information Management or Health Information Services are helpful areas of concentration because they train the individual in business management while building familiarity with medical terminology.

Some medical institutions may desire a Master’s degree for the practice administrator role. Master’s degree programs typically take 2-3 years to complete.

Master’s-level programs, such as a degree in Healthcare Administration, are becoming increasingly common and may prepare the student to work at a larger facility or practice, such as a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

How Much Money Does a Practice Administrator Earn?

Practice administrator jobs have a fairly wide salary range. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary in 2020 for a practice administrator was $104,280 per year. Exact pay varies depending on where a practice administrator is employed.

Government employees on average earn the highest salaries, while practice administrators at nursing facilities make the least.

Practice administrators are generally salaried workers. Weekend and evening hours are a regular feature of practice administrator jobs, as many of the facilities they are employed with are open all the time.

Practice Administrator Job Requirements

Job requirements for a practice administrator vary widely depending on the facility. In addition to the preferred degrees and optional certifications, practice administrators must demonstrate many higher-level critical thinking skills.

Desirable skills can include are not limited to leadership ability, data analysis skills, interpersonal skills, and communication skills.

Leadership skills are often essential. Because the practice administrator is often responsible for supervising the various office staff teams as well as coordinating HR functions, the individual will need a combination of leadership experience and training to succeed in this capacity.

Interpersonal skills will come into play when interacting with, training and counseling staff as well as working in conjunction with the organization’s physicians.

Other essential skill sets include data analysis and communication skills. Practice administrations are commonly responsible for the organization’s budget and payroll functions, including handling the healthcare revenue cycle and employee raises.

Communication skills are perhaps one of the most important aspects of a practice administrator job. Practice administrators will need to be in constant communication with the office staff, physicians, and other medical personnel to ensure that the organization is running smoothly.

Practice Administrator Career Path

Many practice administrators typically have a background working in healthcare services. Many in the profession may have started as office staff within a physician’s office or hospital.

Employers almost always require prospective candidates to have some previous experience in the healthcare field. Common areas of applicable experience are working as a medical records specialist or an administrative assistant or other administrative roles within a healthcare facility.

The outlook for the practice administrator market is positive. Between now and the year 2030, practice administrator jobs are expected to grow by 32%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is more than double the national average for job growth.

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