Here are some general guidelines to help you begin to set and achieve your career goals:
Investigate many educational programs—both graduate and undergraduate—before you make a commitment of time and money. (A list of links to CAHME-accredited graduate programs follows.) Programs vary widely from location to location. Some offer a broad summary of the field, while others provide training in managing specific kinds of organizations.
Develop your people skills. Your success as a healthcare executive will depend on your ability to get along with diverse groups of people: employees, physicians, vendors, governing boards, and the public. Learn how to motivate, negotiate, and manage.
Develop strong quantitative skills. Healthcare executives must understand financial strategies and accounting principles, and they must be able to interpret data.
Stay current on healthcare trends. Be aware of shifting opportunities resulting from changing demographic and reimbursement trends to developments in healthcare policy
Read about healthcare. You can find interesting articles in local newspapers, national magazines such as Newsweek and Time, and trade publications such as Healthcare Executive, Frontiers of Health Services Management, Journal of Healthcare Management, and Modern Healthcare. Visit university libraries.
Learn about healthcare providers. Nearby hospitals, HMOs, and mental health facilities may offer free publications, health fairs, or community health education programs. If possible, tour a facility or participate in a volunteer program.
Be patient and flexible. You may have to relocate to another part of the country to take advantage of a specific educational program or job opportunity.
Identify your career goals and take steps to attain them. Determine your weaknesses and then develop a plan to correct them. Build on your strengths.
Use ACHE resources. The American College of Healthcare Executives provides access to the Online Directory of Fellowships in Health Services Administration, directories of local chapters, and participants in the ACHE Higher Education Network, and many other tools to help you network and develop your career.
Rely on the expertise of healthcare organizations.