In this weekly feature, the editors of SpringBoard highlight one career in the health care professions–including a basic description, educational requirements, core competencies/key skills needed, and related web sites and professional organizations where you can find more information!
The COO is responsible for the smooth and efficient operation of the hospital, including management of the profit and loss statement for the hospital’s business, as well as the related resources associated with the hospital operation. The COO reports directly to the CEO and is typically a member of the CEO’s senior leadership team. In this capacity, the COO carries responsibility for integrating the strategic plan of the organization with the operations. The COO provides management oversight for the development of high-quality, cost-effective, and integrated clinical programs within the hospital. The management portfolio held by this leader is notably diverse, with corresponding broad organizational implications and complexity, characterized by substantial scope of responsibility in this respect. The COO is expected to act in the absence of the CEO. The COO will exercise management responsibility over the hospital, ensuring efficient services that are designed to meet the needs of patients, physicians, public, and staff. This will either be done directly or through delegation of responsibility to the management staff.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
Most acute care hospital COOs possess a master’s degree in health administration, although master’s degrees in business administration, public administration, management, or similar training are frequently seen. Persons in this role typically have at least 5 years of senior-level healthcare management experience as either a COO or other administrative leadership role.
CORE COMPETENCIES AND SKILLS
- Outstanding interpersonal skills including the ability to effectively communicate with persons throughout the organization, including clinicians
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Ability to understand multiple types of financial and legal documents
- Ability to motivate diverse groups of employees to accomplish the goals and objectives of the hospital
- Commitment to creating and sustaining high-quality healthcare delivery
- Ability to hold subordinates accountable for organizational goals
- Ability to make difficult decisions
Most hospital COOs earn between $95,000 and $200,000 per year. However, this figure varies depending on a number of variables, including the size of the hospital and the region of the country in which the hospital is located. COOs of smaller hospitals in more rural areas tend to earn less than their counterparts at large, urban hospitals.
The overall outlook for hospital COO jobs is expected to continue a slow but steady decline. The reason for the decline is due to the reduction in the number of acute care hospitals in the United States. There continues to be a number of hospitals that are closing particularly in rural communities and urban hospitals that are either merging with competitors or are closing altogether. The average hospital COO remains in the position for approximately 5 years, so there is a regular turnover of persons in these positions.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
- Visit local universities offering the MHA degree or equivalent. A list of these university-based programs can be found at the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (www.aupha.org)
- American College of Healthcare Executives (www.ache.org)
- Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm)