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Hospital COO Career

How to Become a Hospital COO

Like any company, a hospital requires efficient operations to stay in business and achieve success. Hospitals rely on dedicated leadership teams to implement strategies that satisfy employees and stakeholders alike. Reporting directly to the hospital CEO, the hospital chief operating officer (COO) provides oversight for all major administrative decisions and policies.

If you’re someone with a demonstrated passion for healthcare and patient treatment, and you thrive in an executive-level leadership role, the role of a hospital COO is a fulfilling career option.

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What is a Hospital COO?

A hospital COO advises a majority of facility operations, including policy implementation across all departments.

Unlike the role of a hospital CEO, hospital COOs do not directly implement new policies or strategic changes. Instead, they rank beneath the CEO and provide valuable insight that informs a CEO’s final decisions. While CEOs are generally involved in long-term strategy and policy-making, hospital COOs maintain primary responsibility for a hospital’s daily operations.

As a hospital COO, you will need to receive a comprehensive education through one or more business degrees that allow you to obtain a C-suite position. In addition, you’ll need extensive experience both in the healthcare sphere and in other leadership roles.

What Does a Hospital COO Do?

The duties of a hospital COO can change daily. As a hospital COO, you’re responsible for advising daily operations across all departments, especially at hospital locations responsible for immediate patient care. On some days, you might review hospital finances; in other cases, you might spend the majority of your day reviewing applications for a department leadership position.

The exact responsibilities of a hospital COO include:

  • Reporting important information to the hospital CEO.
  • Overseeing a hospital’s daily operations.
  • Connecting with hospital department leaders regularly to ensure consistent operations and gauge their need for any further staff members or resources.
  • Meeting with hospital stakeholders to discuss operations and future goals.
  • Ensuring high levels of ongoing patient care.
  • Coordinating department operations so that each department works well independently, and as a facet of holistic hospital operations.
  • Managing the hospital’s daily financial operations.
  • Advising staffing procedures to fill executive-level department positions with individuals who share the hospital’s vision for success.

These and other duties keep a hospital COO busy as they maintain a clear understanding of how all hospital departments are performing.

What Education Does a Hospital COO Need?

Before you can assume a healthcare leadership position as a hospital COO, you will need to satisfy a few educational requirements. After getting your bachelor’s degree, you will need a Master of Health Leadership or an MBA in healthcare management to get started in this career.

Your master’s program will help you take concrete steps toward a hospital COO position. Leadership and management courses will inform your understanding of the healthcare field. You will develop skills in risk management, data analysis, health information technology, and financial management, to thoroughly prepare you for challenges you’ll face in a hospital environment.

When determining which healthcare leadership degree is right for you, prioritize the skills you know you’ll need. For example, degree programs that teach leadership and management skills will benefit your career as a hospital COO.

Best Degrees for a Hospital COO

Master of Health Leadership

A master's focused on managing comprehensive, value-based care,...

A master's focused on managing comprehensive,...

A master's focused on managing comprehensive, value-based care, directly in line with innovations in health and healthcare.

  • Time: 78% of grads finish within 24 months. 
  • Tuition and fees: $4,385 per 6-month term.

Examples of careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Managed care executive
  • Director of integrated care management
  • Health center manager/clinic manager
  • Director of integrated facilities

Your rich experience in a health-related field can mean more when you bring a master's level of understanding to the problems that organizations need to solve.

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This program is not the only degree WGU offers designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

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MBA Healthcare Management

Prepare for a career leading private or public healthcare...

Prepare for a career leading private or public...

Prepare for a career leading private or public healthcare organizations.

  • Time: Graduates can finish within 12 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Administrative director
  • Chief financial officer
  • Other executive-level roles

Healthcare is big business in today's complex economy.  Steer your career with this specialty MBA.

Compare online business degrees

This program is not the only online business degree WGU offers that is designed to create leaders in the field of healthcare. Compare our health leadership degrees by clicking the button below.

Compare Similar Degrees

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What Skills Does a Hospital COO Need?

Whether they’re communicating with hospital department representatives or advising CEO decisions, a hospital COO maintains proficiency in several management-related skills.

The exact skills that a hospital COO needs may include:

  • Healthcare management: The ability to successfully manage a hospital’s internal and patient-facing healthcare departments.
  • Financial management: The ability to assess a hospital’s budget allocation on a per-department basis.
  • Teamwork: The ability to work together alongside hospital executives and healthcare staff members.
  • Delegation: The ability to pass along tasks appropriately to individual hospital department representatives.
  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to correspond effectively with all healthcare professionals and employees, to collectively promote smooth hospital operations.
  • Public speaking: The ability to publicly address and inform groups of healthcare staff members.
  • Technological proficiency: The ability to correctly use all necessary pieces of hospital technology, including any computers, tablets, phones, and online software platforms.
  • Problem-solving: The ability to identify and solve problems that individual hospital departments are facing.

These and other skills allow a hospital COO to find success as they work toward smooth daily hospital operations, and inform the decisions of the hospital CEO.

How Much Does a Hospital COO Make?

$104,169

The exact income of a hospital COO varies based on several factors, including the employer, employer’s location, employer’s public or private healthcare funding, bonus or profit-sharing structures, years of experience, and education. On average, the salary of a hospital COO is $125,391, with a range of roughly $23,500 to $298,500 each year.

 

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

32%

The job outlook for hospital COOs is favorable in years to come. From 2019 to 2029, employment for all medical and health services managers is forecasted to grow by 32%. This projected growth rate is much faster than the expected average across all occupations.

Where Do Hospital COOs Work?

Hospitals

Hospitals of all sizes will need a COO to help them run. Whether in a rural area with a very small hospital, or a large city with a huge hospital that houses thousands of employees, a COO will need to be involved in the daily operations and coordination. 

Interested in Becoming a Hospital COO?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.

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