101 Careers in Healthcare ManagementIn 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 Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for (a) managing the day-to-day operations of the hospital and its entities; (b) establishing a system for ensuring that high-quality care is provided; (c) ensuring the sound fiscal operation of the hospital, while promoting services that are produced in a cost-effective manner; (d) ensuring compliance with regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies, while continually monitoring the organization’s service and delivery system; (e) ensuring optimal fulfillment of the institutions charter, mission, and philosophy in response to the identified needs of the community; and (f) responding to medical staff, employees, and patients. In addition, the CEO will work closely with the Board of Directors and leadership of the organized medical staff in developing the strategic direction and major policies of the institution. The CEO reports directly to the Board of Directors.

Most acute care hospital CEOs possess a master’s degree in health administration, although master’s degrees in business administration, public administration, management, or similar training is frequently seen. Persons in this role typically have at least 5 years of senior-level healthcare management experience as either a CEO or Chief Operating Officer (COO).


  • 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 fi nancial 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 diffi cult decisions

Most hospital CEOs earn between $121,500 and $231,500 although the top end can go as high as $1,000,000. 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. CEOs of smaller hospitals in more rural areas tend to earn less than their counterparts at large, urban hospitals.

The overall outlook for hospital CEO 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 CEO remains in the position for approximately 5 years, so there is a regular turnover of persons in these positions.


  • Visit local universities offering the Master of Health Administration (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 (www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm)