8 Ways Hospital Executives Can Increase Their Earning Power

Here are eight ways hospital executives can advance their careers and increase their earning power.

1. Continue education.
Hospital CEOs and administrators must have an advanced degree in their specialty area before advancing their career, says Doug Smith, MBA, MHA, President and CEO of B. E. Smith. "When employers are looking at credentials, there are several things they will check," says Mr. Smith. "Your master's degree is the minimum requirement and then you need to stay educated from that point on."

Administrators can continue their education through advanced non-credit course hours at the graduate level. Courses in emerging technology and management practices are particularly attractive to employers. "It's a competitive advantage to embrace technology," says Don Rottman, president of The Rottman Group. Administrators can also take advantage of training offered by professional societies to show they are serious about job advancement.

2. Network among peers, competitors and recruiters. Actively networking can be difficult for administrators to fit into their busy schedules, but is crucial for advancing their careers. "The people who find work the quickest are people who have a well developed professional network," says Mr. Rottman. "Unless you're in an environment that is a multiple hospital [system], to continue to grow, you will most likely have to go somewhere else for continued career advancement."

Hospital executives should attend association conferences and connect with mentors in order to position themselves as future industry leaders. The American College of Healthcare Executives provides networking activities that could be useful when searching for jobs in the future. Mr. Smith says it is also important to network with competitors and recruiters during all career stages. "You never know where your next job is going to come from," says Mr. Smith.  

3. Move with the job. It may be necessary to switch locations in order to earn a promotion, which can be tough for administrators with families who would rather stay put. However, Mr. Smith says administrators must be open to moving for a better job. "You have to seize the moment when an opportunity comes your way," says Mr. Smith. "When a good opportunity comes along, you have to grab it and go."

4. Take an initial pay cut.
In some situations, hospital executives can benefit from leaving their position at a larger hospital to fill a higher leadership role at a smaller facility. Working at a smaller hospital gives the administrator additional experience in a broader leadership role, which can be used as a springboard to their next job in a larger hospital. However, transferring from a large hospital to a small hospital often means taking an initial pay cut. "A lot of times clinical leaders can be making a significant amount of money, but in order to work into senior administration they might have to take this pay cut," says Mr. Smith. "Sometimes you have to be willing to take a little less money for a long-term gain."

5. Invest in the employees under you.
Executives should work well with those under them, allocate leadership positions and encourage their employees to grow within their careers. This means administrators should accept turnover when it happens. "People in leadership roles should actively develop the people under them. They could become your replacement when you leave, or could themselves leave for an advancement opportunity. Either way, it speaks to your quality leadership competencies," says Mr. Rottman. "If you find yourself looking for a job, these people also become your greatest networking advocates." Additionally, administrators who can show their ability to develop and prepare their employees for better opportunities are more attractive to potential employers.

6. Display the characteristics of the job you want. Hospital administrators can show their employers they are promotable by taking on challenges and responsibilities similar to those required for the position. "A lot of individuals are trying desperately to prove themselves in the job they have but they also have to behave in a way that shows they are promotable," says Mr. Smith. "As you grow into your career and you look to make changes, you need to behave like one would in order to get that job." Promotable behaviors include the ability to draft ideas, contribute during presentation discussions, handle leadership or authority positions well and wear appropriate attire.

7. Present in front of an audience. One of the best ways for hospital leaders to network and display promotable behavior is to give presentations either at the hospital or at organization conferences. Giving professional presentations allows the administrator to show he or she is able to make a logical argument and convince others to go along with his or her program. Administrators who speak publicly are also seen as leading experts on their topic.

8. Develop programs with incremental outcomes. Administrators need to document the before, during and after effect of their tenure by benchmarking the changes they've influenced. Future employers are more impressed with administrators who are able to articulate the positive changes they made in their previous or current position. "To convice someone you would be of value to them, you have to be able to show how you've been of value to others," says Mr. Rottman. "If you are above average, why? Be able to articulate the incremental value you've had on an organization. People who can quantify things really stand out."

Learn more about B. E. Smith.

Learn more about The Rottman Group.

Read other coverage on hospital compensation:

- 7 Tips for Hospitals Creating Physician Contracts

- Washington's Adams County Public Hospital District No. 2 Starts New CEO at $140K

- 8 Statistics About Compensation of CEOs and CFOs of Non-Profit Healthcare Organizations

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