While most people think of hospitals as places where people recover from diseases, injuries and surgeries, hospitals have to operate on strict budgets. Whether a hospital is built to generate a profit or is run by a nonprofit institute, hospital administrators have the task of ensuring that expenditures do not exceed revenues. Further, hospital sometimes must compete with each other based on price, which places a tremendous burden on administrators to offer the lowest prices possible. All those who deal with financial issues may be faced with burnout at some point, but hospital administrators face burnout at higher rates than most. Here are the three top reasons why hospital administrators often burn out.
1. Complex and unpredictable financing
In most areas of business, financial projections fairly simple to predict. While the number of sales generated rise and fall, it is generally fairly easy to see trends. For hospitals, it can be far more difficult to predict how much revenue will come in a particular period of time. As a result, hospital administrators must deal with an inherently unpredictable field. In addition, financing hospitals is complex. Some patients pay their own bills; most, however, have insurance. Dealing with insurance companies can be a nightmare, and hospital administrators must deal with insurance companies to recoup their expenses. Hospitals are also required to provide some medical care to patients even if they have no insurance and cannot pay. Managing a hospital also entails dealing with bill collectors and forcing poor people to pay large sums of money. Combined with the complex rules created by national and state regulators, balancing the books can make life incredibly challenging for hospital administrators.
2. Life is in the balance
Those who work at hospitals are directly responsible for saving lives. Hospital administrators are somewhat detached from this reality, but the decisions they make can have a profound impact on how effective the hospital can save lives. For example, hospitals that are able to provide certain levels of trauma care will be able to save the lives of those who have been injured. For a hospital administrator, the decision to invest in certain technologies will lead to lives being saved or lost. This increased stress can be severe, and many hospital administrators have difficulty accepting the fact that they must balance the financial health of their hospital with the health of hospital patients. For many administrators, this burden can lead to severe cases of burnout, and this is one of the most common reason cited by former hospital administrators who left the field.
3. Conflicting interests
Doctors and nurses are solely concerned with providing the best medical care possible. Owners and managers of hospitals, on the other hand, are motivated by making a profit. Hospital administrators often find themselves acting as liaisons between these two conflicting sides, and they often bear the brunt of the anger expressed by other parties involved. Over time, hospital administrators often feel the pressure that comes with trying to satisfy two different groups of people with vastly different demands. Hospital administrators know what motivates each side and why each side argues certain points, but it may simply be impossible to satisfy the demands of both those who provide medical care and those who are seeking to make a profit from the hospital.
Steve Gordon is a hospital administrator and guest author at MBA Healthcare Management, where he has written about online healthcare management degree programs.