Administrative Support Professional Definition Essays

You will make decisions about your career throughout your life. No matter what stage of the decision-making process you are in, we hope that this essay will give you a better understanding of the exciting profession of healthcare management. Healthcare is one of today's most dynamic and growing fields, with a wide range of opportunities and challenges. Healthcare executives work in a variety of settings, including hospitals and integrated delivery systems, managed care organizations, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, and consulting firms, to name a few. The American College of Healthcare Executives wants to help you make a positive, informed decision about your career. You can count on us as a resource for career advice, resume consultation, continuing education, and other career services.

Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE
President and Chief Executive Officer
American College of Healthcare Executives

Healthcare: A Changing System

Healthcare is changing more rapidly than almost any other field. The field is changing in terms of how and where care is delivered, who is providing those services, and how that care is financed. These changes are being driven primarily by the growth of managed care. A number of other current trends are expected to continue, including:

  • Integration of healthcare delivery organizations to create accessible, appropriate, and comprehensive care pathways for all people
  • Continual advances in medical technology
  • Collaboration among provider organizations, physicians, businesses, insurers, and others to improve community health status
  • Increased emphasis on disease prevention and wellness promotion
  • An elderly population that will grow exponentially with the "Baby Boomer" generation
  • Better-informed patients demanding high-quality care
  • Pressure from business, government, insurers, and patients to control costs and demonstrate the value of the services delivered
  • Efforts to implement continuous quality improvement initiatives similar to those found in other fields

Career Opportunities for Healthcare Executives

This is an exciting time for healthcare management. The field requires talented people to help introduce and manage the changes taking place. In their roles, healthcare executives have an opportunity to make a significant contribution to improving the health of the communities their organizations serve. As a result of the transformation taking place in the healthcare system, career options for healthcare executives are becoming more diverse. Increasingly, positions for healthcare executives may be found in a wide variety of settings, such as:

  • Ambulatory care facilities
  • Consulting firms
  • Healthcare associations
  • Home health agencies
  • Hospices
  • Hospitals and hospital systems
  • Integrated delivery systems
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Managed care organizations (such as HMOs and PPOs)
  • Medical group practices
  • Mental health organizations
  • Public health departments
  • University or research institutions

Today, an estimated 100,000 people occupy health management positions at numerous organizational levels, from department head to chief executive officer. Requirements for senior-level positions in healthcare organizations are demanding, but these jobs also offer opportunities to improve the system of care giving.

With the growing diversity in the healthcare system, many executives are needed in settings other than the traditional hospital. However, competition is intense at all job levels, and many positions that previously required only a bachelor’s degree now require a master’s degree. Each year, about 2,000 students receive graduate degrees in healthcare management. Salaries for beginning master’s degree graduates generally range from the high-30s to high-40s, depending on the type of organization and its location. If you choose a career in healthcare management, your first job might be an entry- to mid-level management position in a specialized area, such as:

  • Finance
  • Government relations
  • Human resources
  • Information systems
  • Marketing and public affairs
  • Materials management (purchasing of equipment and supplies)
  • Medical staff relations
  • Nursing administration
  • Patient care services
  • Planning and development

Do You Have What It Takes?

What do employers look for in their entry-level managers? Here are some of the criteria:

Academic training/previous work experience

  • A degree in health administration from a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education or another degree that may qualify you
  • A commitment to professional development and continuing education
  • Previous positions, internships, and fellowships in healthcare organizations or other business settings

Communication skills

  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to develop and present reports and proposals

Adaptability/organizational fit

  • Personal and career objectives that mesh with those of the organization
  • Ability to work well with others, including superiors, subordinates, and peers
  • Attitude and appearance that communicate confidence, maturity, and competence

Dependability, judgment, character

  • Maturity to make decisions and take responsibility for them
  • Honest and ethical business conduct
  • Willingness to make a commitment to the organization

General management skills

  • Leadership that inspires and motivates others
  • Ability to train, delegate, evaluate, coordinate, and negotiate

Where Do You Start?

Begin planning as early as possible for a career in healthcare management. A good scholastic record is important—especially if you want to attend a graduate program for a master’s degree or a doctorate. Many schools and colleges in the United States and Canada offer undergraduate degrees with a concentration in health services management.

In the past, most students chose the traditional route of a master’s degree in health administration or public health. Today, however, students are investigating other options, including graduate degrees in business and public administration, with course concentration in health services management. Some schools offer a joint degree-a master’s degree in both business administration and public health, or in both healthcare management and law, for example.

Graduate programs generally last two years and lead to a master’s degree. They include course work in healthcare policy and law, marketing, organizational behavior, healthcare financing, human resources, and other healthcare management topics. The program may also include a supervised internship, residency, or fellowship.

To learn more about student involvement with the American College of Healthcare Executives, please consult the ACHE Higher Education Network Directory. To learn more about post-graduate fellowships in healthcare administration, consult the Directory of Postgraduate Administrative Fellowships. You may also obtain information on how to apply as a Student Associate of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Making Your Career Happen

Here are some general guidelines to help you begin to set and achieve your career goals:

Investigate many educational programs—both graduate and undergraduate—before you make a commitment of time and money. (A list of links to CAHME-accredited graduate programs follows.) Programs vary widely from location to location. Some offer a broad summary of the field, while others provide training in managing specific kinds of organizations.

Develop your people skills. Your success as a healthcare executive will depend on your ability to get along with diverse groups of people: employees, physicians, vendors, governing boards, and the public. Learn how to motivate, negotiate, and manage.

Develop strong quantitative skills. Healthcare executives must understand financial strategies and accounting principles, and they must be able to interpret data.

Stay current on healthcare trends. Be aware of shifting opportunities resulting from changing demographic and reimbursement trends to developments in healthcare policy

Read about healthcare. You can find interesting articles in local newspapers, national magazines such as Newsweek and Time, and trade publications such as Healthcare Executive, Frontiers of Health Services Management, Journal of Healthcare Management, and Modern Healthcare. Visit university libraries.

Learn about healthcare providers. Nearby hospitals, HMOs, and mental health facilities may offer free publications, health fairs, or community health education programs. If possible, tour a facility or participate in a volunteer program.

Be patient and flexible. You may have to relocate to another part of the country to take advantage of a specific educational program or job opportunity.

Identify your career goals and take steps to attain them. Determine your weaknesses and then develop a plan to correct them. Build on your strengths.

Use ACHE resources. The American College of Healthcare Executives provides access to the Directory of Postgraduate Administrative Fellowships, directories of local chapters, and participants in the ACHE Higher Education Network, and many other tools to help you network and develop your career.

Rely on the expertise of healthcare organizations.

Some of these resources include:

  1. American Association of Health Plans
    1129 20th St. N.W., Ste. 600
    Washington, DC 20036
    (202) 778-3200
  2. American Association of Healthcare Consultants
    11208 Waples Mill Rd., Ste. 109
    Fairfax, VA 22030
    (703) 691-2242
  3. American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
    901 E St., N.W., Ste. 500
    Washington, DC 20004-2037
    (202) 783-2242
  4. American College of Healthcare Executives
    1 N. Franklin St., Ste. 1700
    Chicago, IL 60606-3529
    (312) 424-2800
  5. American College of Medical Practice Executives
    104 Inverness Terrace, E.
    Englewood, CO 80112-5306
    (303) 799-1111
  6. American Association for Physician Leadership
    400 N Ashley Dr # 400
    Tampa, FL 33602
    (800) 562-8088
  7. American Hospital Association
    155 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 400
    Chicago, IL 60606
    (312) 422-3000
  8. American Organization of Nurse Executives
    155 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 400
    Chicago, IL 60606
    (312) 422-2800
  9. American Public Health Association
    1015 15th St., N.W., Ste. 300
    Washington, DC 20005
    (202) 789-5600
  10. Association of Behaviorial Healthcare Managers
    60 Revere Dr., Ste. 500
    Northbrook, IL 60062
    (847) 480-9626
  11. Association of University Programs in Health Administration
    2000 N. 14th St., Ste. 780
    Arlington, VA 22201
    ( 703) 894-0940
  12. Canadian College of Health Leaders
    350 Sparks St., Ste. 402
    Ottawa, ON K1R 7S8 Canada
    (613) 235-7218
  13. Canadian Hospital Association
    17 York St., Ste. 100
    Ottawa, ON K1N 9J6 Canada
    (613) 241-8005
  14. Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
    730 Eleventh Street, NW, Ste. 410
    Washington, DC 20001
    (202) 638-5131
  15. Healthcare Financial Management Association
    Two Westbrook Corporate Center, Ste. 700
    Westchester, IL 60154
    (708) 531-9600

American College of Healthcare Executives

The American College of Healthcare Executives is an international professional society of 40,000 healthcare executives. ACHE is known for its prestigious credentialing and educational programs and its annual Congress on Healthcare Management, which draws more than 4,000 participants each year. ACHE is also known for its journal, the Journal of Healthcare Management, and magazine, Healthcare Executive, as well as ground-breaking research and career development and public policy programs.

ACHE’s publishing division, Health Administration Press, is one of the largest publishers of books and journals on all aspects of health services management in addition to textbooks for use in college and university courses.

Through such efforts, ACHE works toward its goal of being the premier professional society for healthcare leaders by providing exceptional value to its members.

Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education

The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education was organized in 1968 to provide accreditation to individual academic programs offering a major course of study in health services administration, leading to a professional master’s degree. CAHME has been granted formal recognition by the Commission on Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. The Commission is the only organization recognized to grant accreditation to master’s level health administration programs in the United States and Canada.

CAHME establishes criteria for graduate education in health services administration, planning, and policy; conducts surveys that encourage universities to maintain and improve their programs; determines compliance with the Commission’s criteria; and provides ongoing consultation to health services administration programs. CAHME promotes quality education in health services administration.

The Commission has ten corporate members: the American College of Healthcare Executives, the American College of Medical Practice Executives, the American College of Physician Executives, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the American Public Health Association, the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, the Canadian Institute of Health Management, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

Updated 2018

Summary Report for:
43-6011.00 - Executive Secretaries and Executive Administrative Assistants

Provide high-level administrative support by conducting research, preparing statistical reports, handling information requests, and performing clerical functions such as preparing correspondence, receiving visitors, arranging conference calls, and scheduling meetings. May also train and supervise lower-level clerical staff.

Sample of reported job titles: Administrative Aide, Administrative Assistant, Administrative Associate, Administrative Coordinator, Administrative Secretary, Administrative Specialist, Executive Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, Executive Secretary, Office Assistant

View report: Summary  Details  Custom

Tasks  |  Technology Skills  |  Tools Used  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information


  • Manage and maintain executives' schedules.
  • Make travel arrangements for executives.
  • Prepare invoices, reports, memos, letters, financial statements, and other documents, using word processing, spreadsheet, database, or presentation software.
  • Coordinate and direct office services, such as records, departmental finances, budget preparation, personnel issues, and housekeeping, to aid executives.
  • Answer phone calls and direct calls to appropriate parties or take messages.
  • Prepare responses to correspondence containing routine inquiries.
  • Open, sort, and distribute incoming correspondence, including faxes and email.
  • Greet visitors and determine whether they should be given access to specific individuals.
  • Prepare agendas and make arrangements, such as coordinating catering for luncheons, for committee, board, and other meetings.
  • Conduct research, compile data, and prepare papers for consideration and presentation by executives, committees, and boards of directors.
  • Perform general office duties, such as ordering supplies, maintaining records management database systems, and performing basic bookkeeping work.
  • File and retrieve corporate documents, records, and reports.
  • Read and analyze incoming memos, submissions, and reports to determine their significance and plan their distribution.
  • Provide clerical support to other departments.
  • Attend meetings to record minutes.
  • Process payroll information.
  • Interpret administrative and operating policies and procedures for employees.
  • Set up and oversee administrative policies and procedures for offices or organizations.
  • Meet with individuals, special interest groups, and others on behalf of executives, committees, and boards of directors.
  • Compile, transcribe, and distribute minutes of meetings.
  • Supervise and train other clerical staff and arrange for employee training by scheduling training or organizing training material.
  • Review operating practices and procedures to determine whether improvements can be made in areas such as workflow, reporting procedures, or expenditures.

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  • Clerical — Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
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  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
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Work Activities

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
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Detailed Work Activities

  • Execute sales or other financial transactions.
  • Make travel, accommodations, or entertainment arrangements for others.
  • Prepare research or technical reports.
  • Maintain medical records.
  • Prepare documentation for contracts, transactions, or regulatory compliance.
  • Manage clerical or administrative activities.
  • Answer telephones to direct calls or provide information.
  • Coordinate operational activities.
  • Prepare business correspondence.
  • Distribute incoming mail.
  • Greet customers, patrons, or visitors.
  • Sort mail.
  • Schedule operational activities.
  • Compile data or documentation.
  • Order materials, supplies, or equipment.
  • File documents or records.
  • Explain regulations, policies, or procedures.
  • Read materials to determine needed actions.
  • Develop organizational policies or programs.
  • Confer with coworkers to coordinate work activities.
  • Record information from meetings or other formal proceedings.
  • Transcribe spoken or written information.
  • Supervise clerical or administrative personnel.
  • Train personnel.

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Work Context

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Job Zone

TitleJob Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
EducationMost occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
Related ExperiencePrevious work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
Job TrainingEmployees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone ExamplesThese occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, nannies, and medical assistants.
SVP Range(6.0 to < 7.0)

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Interest code: CE

  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
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Work Values

  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2016)$26.86 hourly, $55,860 annual
State wages
Employment (2016)685,000 employees
Projected growth (2016-2026) Decline (-2% or lower)
Projected job openings (2016-2026)54,600
State trends
Top industries (2016)

Educational Services


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 wage data and 2016-2026 employment projections. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2016-2026). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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