Working in a medical field, or elsewhere within the healthcare industry, presents a wide range of highly rewarding opportunities. Some of the possible career paths available to any one of a wide range of degree programs are also extremely lucrative, without sacrificing that hard-earned sense of professional satisfaction. One of those positions, that of the hospital CEO, provides a wide range of responsibilities and rewards which are unlikely be found elsewhere.

So, how long does it typically take to become a hospital CEO, and what steps are involved along the way?

Educational Requirements

Depending upon the size and reputation of a particular hospital or organization, the requirements to become chief executive of the institution can vary considerably. Technically, a healthcare management professional can enter into the field with a Bachelor's degree in an appropriate discipline, and advance from there; to reach the executive level, however, most organizations will require a Master's degree at a minimum. This will, at the very least, make one a much more viably qualified candidate. To become chief executive, even of a small organization, there really isn't such a thing as over-qualification: a more advanced degree program would be even more preferable. Many larger and more prestigious institutions, particularly teaching hospitals, will often require executives to have clinical expertise and experience, as well as certifiable abilities in healthcare administration. The total time represented here may be as little as four years, but is much more likely to be closer to 12-16 before the position comes anywhere within reach.

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Professional Prerequisites and Certifications

Certification specifically for the position of chief executive is unlikely to be an issue, but there are a range of other certifications available for healthcare administrators and management personnel. These certifications, such as those offered by highly accredited professional associations, are a must-have, even if they aren't normally required to advance further within the specific field for which they are designed. The responsibilities of a chief executive for a hospital or other healthcare facility are significant, and the ideal candidate is expected to be able to manage and relate to the concerns of a range of professionals who are, themselves, required to maintain a broad range of certifications, in order to be taken seriously at their positions.

Duties of a Hospital CEO

The primary duties of a CEO in a healthcare setting relate to the creation of a positive and supportive workplace culture. The ideal candidate will have strong leadership skills, in which fashion they aren't much different from the ideal candidate for any chief executive position. The CEO is also responsible, as they are elsewhere, for ensuring the hiring and training of qualified staff members. Beyond this, there are a number of particular requirements unique to the healthcare setting: the CEO must ensure quality patient care, and will be held personally responsible for common issues in today's healthcare industry, such as the spread of MRSA and other treatment-resistant superbugs within their facility. They will be expected to remain compliant with a host of local, state and federal laws, which requires a familiarity born of experience in a healthcare administrative setting.

Becoming the CEO of a hospital will take years of dedication and hard work. Including educational requirements, at a bare minimum, a total of 12-16 years of academics and professional experience are to be expected. A broad range of practical and administrative expertise is required. At the end of the road is a position to be proud of, one that many people hold until retiring. It offers generous compensation, including one of the best benefits packages to be found in any professional field within the United States today.