It’s a slow week, the last week of the year.
Time to break down gift boxes, heat up leftovers, and reflect on the year gone by.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I left my job at a hospital to begin the PhD program, but it was really just a few months ago.
Fortunately, I was able to “time-capsule” some of what I learned with my course on Excel for healthcare professionals.
But there’s certainly more to wring out of the experience, especially as healthcare remains a primary research interest for me.
One theme of this blog is how to be a better analyst. Toward that end, some pointers on entering the healthcare sector — specifically in hospital administration.
Some pointers follow:
So, you want to work in hospital administration…
1. Good idea
First of all, congratulations. This is a rewarding, important place to be. You really do feel like you’re part of a bigger mission as a hospital employee, more so certainly than retail and even a bit more than education (my other two areas of employment).
Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty to do at a hospital besides patient care. Heck, blood makes me queasy. But, as I put it, someone has to keep the lights on. That might sound boring or even condescending. But the better you can do this, the more healthcare providers can focus on what matters with the best resources at their disposal.
2. But are you healthcare enough?
My first interview in healthcare was unlike any other I’d done — and I’ve interviewed in everything from investment banking to military subcontracting.
“You have no healthcare experience. How can you do this job?”
I made my case (using many of the tactics in my course, by the way!). Fortunately they relented. But I saw many very qualified people passed up because they did not have healthcare experience.
This is a shame, and all too common.
There’s a common sense that healthcare is so unique that there is nothing to learn from other industries, or from experts with experience in fields other than healthcare.
If you’re new to the industry, be ready to address this in your interview. Use some of the tactics in the course — that you understand the problems analysts face, that you have the tools to tackle them, and so forth.
This is a huge cultural problem in healthcare in my opinion. The best way to reverse it is for you to get the job.
3. Data wrangling until it hurts
Healthcare is notoriously complicated. The same goes for the data. It comes in all shapes and sizes, rarely connected into an analysis-ready table.
They say analysts usually spend fifty to eighty percent of their time preparing data — it may be more in healthcare.
For example, you may need to compare payroll usage with hospital volumes. These may be two standalone systems –you’ll have to build your own logic to combine and analyze.
Or, BI systems may export data in funky ways (leading 0s, date strings that need to be parsed, etc.)
Your data preparation skills need to be tight — and that’s why I suggest the Data Cleaning & Power Query course with John Michaloudis and Oz du Soleil, two friends of the blog.
4. Remedial business training
This is a touchy topic, but you need to know.
The average hospital administrator knows less about business than the average manager of a mall store. Having worked with both, I truly believe this.
But, let’s be fair. Many hospital administrators began their career in patient care, and only recently made the switch to office work.
So, don’t be surprised when you are asked what a number enclosed in parentheses means. Or how to sort numbers in Excel. Or why there was a $15 charge in this line item of a $5,000 budget.
Caveat — a sample size of one….
Remember this is mostly drawn from my experience and conversations. Maybe I’m all wet. Care to set the record straight about working in hospital administration? Drop a line in the comments.
For those of you considering this field — go for it. I hope these tips help. Let me know what you find.