Education programs that may lead to hospice administration job opportunities include a bachelor's degree in nursing, a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, or a master's degree in healthcare administration.
A bachelor's degree program in nursing qualifies graduates to apply for licensure as registered nurses. During these 4-year programs, students take courses in nursing theory, leadership, pharmacology, and computers in healthcare. They must complete many hours of clinical training, working with patients and medical staff in a variety of situations. Nurses who want to become hospice administrators may find it useful to first work as nurses in a hospice and seek certification from professional organizations for hospice nurses.
Another career path to hospice administration is with a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, which gives students a basic understanding of the healthcare industry, its problems and the populations it serves. These programs offer business courses such as finance and management, with a focus on how these concepts work in the healthcare industry. Some programs require an internship, which could be completed in a hospice setting. Prerequisites include an admissions interview and the completion of various courses before admission (healthcare delivery, statistics, etc.).
A master's degree program in healthcare management offers advanced healthcare administration and business training to students with bachelor's degrees. They often have flexibility in creating their plans of study and can choose electives that might help them in hospice administration, such as healthcare ethics, policy issues, and staff management. A thesis paper is required for graduation. For entry, work experience in the healthcare field and a statement of intent are required.
Bachelor's Degree in Nursing
There are several educational paths to becoming a registered nurse. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program combines comprehensive classroom instruction with clinical experience in healthcare facilities and is typically sufficient for entry-level hospice administration jobs. A bachelor's degree in nursing program prepares students for many different roles in healthcare settings. Successful hospice administration nurses must not only have extensive medical knowledge and skills, but must also have superior business acumen, communication and leadership abilities. Courses beneficial to nursing students seeking hospice administrative careers include:
- Nursing leadership
- Cultural diversity and health
- Ethics in nursing
- Psychiatric health
Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration
Students in healthcare administration programs learn about the healthcare industry, the different populations served, and the challenges administrators can expect. Programs combine law and ethics courses, business courses, and healthcare courses to prepare graduates to manage a hospice program effectively and efficiently. Programs accredited by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration must include a healthcare internship - valuable experience that may result in employment. Program coursework leading to a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration hones health management, health planning, and decision-making skills. Students typically have opportunities to select elective courses relevant to hospice administration. Courses include:
- Healthcare delivery
- Long-term care
- Ethical issues in healthcare
- Legal issues in healthcare
- Information systems in healthcare
Master's in Healthcare Administration
A master's program in healthcare administration combines interdisciplinary business and healthcare courses to prepare graduates for advanced roles in healthcare management. Candidates entering a master's programs in healthcare administration come from a variety of clinical and non-clinical backgrounds. Elective choices, along with a culminating internship and thesis, allow prospective hospice administrators to hone the superior organizational, management and interpersonal skills necessary to achieve top positions in hospice administration. Students seeking careers in hospice administration can focus on relevant electives and internship opportunities. Typical courses include:
- Long term care administration
- Healthcare ethics and law
- Healthcare program evaluation
- Staff management
- Healthcare policy issues
- Healthcare information systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A nursing degree yields opportunities in many healthcare settings. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for registered nurses is expected to increase 16% over 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Employment of RNs in residential care facilities and home health agencies is predicted to grow faster than average during this time, due to the aging population and available alternatives to traditional hospital care. The mean salary for registered nurses in May 2015 was $71,000. Although the majority of hospices are independent agencies, hospice administration nurses are also employed in hospitals, home health agencies and nursing homes (www.nhpco.org).
Jobs for medical and health service managers are anticipated to grow 17% over 2014-2024 due to the continued increase in healthcare facilities, according to BLS. Salaries in 2015 averaged $106,070 for these professionals. Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in healthcare administration can find jobs with healthcare organizations, healthcare suppliers, policy organizations, and insurance organizations. Opportunities in hospice programs continue to increase. The approximately 5,800 programs in the U.S. in 2013 have grown from the first program established in 1974 (www.nhpco.org). Those interested in advanced hospice management roles should consider pursuing a master's degree in healthcare administration.
Graduates with a master's degree in healthcare administration may find entry-level employment in a variety of healthcare roles, including hospice administrator and hospice executive director. Successful administrators with a master's degree may advance to hospice vice president and eventually CEO after many years of experience. The NHPCO reported that over 1.65 million patients received hospice care in the U.S. in 2011 and 44.6% of all deaths that year occurred under hospice care, up from 41.9% in 2010 (www.nhpco.org).
Many hospice administration jobs require a current state nursing license and cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification. Some facilities also require certification as a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse (CHPN), available to licensed registered nurses with palliative care experience and offered by the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses (NBCHPN).
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has a Hospice Manager Development Program that offers classroom and distance learning opportunities to new hospice managers or those seeking advanced management skills. Program courses can also be used as continuing education credits for hospice nurses and physicians. The California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) offers three certificate programs, including a Hospice Manager Certificate and the more advanced Hospice Administrator Certificate. The NBCHPN offers a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator certification for administrators who possess a minimum of two years' hospice experience.
In addition to the hospice administrator certification offered by the NBCHPN, the NHPCO offers an executive leadership program that includes assessment, mentoring, and workshop opportunities for hospice executives. Senior level administrators with several years of experience may also consider the Hospice Executive Certificate offered by CAHSAH. All NBCHPN certifications are valid for four years and require evidence of continuing education for certification renewal. Educational activities and programs offered through NHPCO and CAHSAH typically provide continuing education credits.
Hospice administration is available as a career to students who complete either a nursing program and certification in hospice administration, or who obtain a master's in healthcare management. Graduates are able to manage long term care of terminal patients, as well as navigate healthcare information systems.