Health Administration Careers in Hospices

Sponsored School Search


Hospice serves as the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness. It requires professionals who possess the expertise required to oversee the medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support for patients while in hospice care. In 2014 alone, some 1.7 million patients received hospice services.

Hospice care focuses on caring, not curing. This means that hospice providers administer personalized care services as end-of-life care. Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans cover hospice care when a physician deems the condition terminal (life expectancy of six months or less).

Executive Master of Health Administration Online – George Washington University

This web-based Master of Health Administration program allows you to earn your MHA through GWU’s respected Milken Institute School of Public Health without disrupting work and family life. This innovative program combines a web-based platform accessible from anywhere in the world with face-to-face online classes and immersions that allow you to get the most from your learning experience by collaborating with professors and peers.

Click here for admissions information.

As America’s elderly population grows, the demand for hospice care and the administrative professionals who ensure the safe and effective delivery of care continues to increase as well.

Where Hospice Administrators Work

According to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, there are more than 6,000 hospice programs in operation in the United States, including both primary locations and satellite offices.

Hospice administrators oversee hospice programs in all 50 states. These programs range from small, volunteer agencies to corporate chains that care for thousands of patients every day. The vast majority (79 percent in 2014) of hospices, however, have 500 or fewer admissions each year.

Most hospice programs (60 percent) are independent, freestanding agencies. Others are part of a hospital system, home health agency, or nursing home. The majority (93 percent) possess certification through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Job titles for professionals in hospice administration often include:

  • Hospice administrator
  • Hospice director
  • Hospice branch manager
  • Hospice and advanced illness administrator
  • Director of hospice operations
  • Director of clinical services
  • Executive director, hospice
  • Hospice director of operations

Hospice Administrator Job Description

Hospice administrator jobs involve managing the interdisciplinary hospice team, which includes physician services, nursing services, social services, spiritual care bereavement care, and volunteer services. In some cases, hospice care services may even include physical, occupational, speech, and dietary therapy.

The hospice team provides services that address:

  • The patient’s pain and symptoms
  • The patient’s emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual needs
  • Drugs, medical supplies, and equipment
  • Family care
  • Therapies, including speech and physical therapy
  • Short-term inpatient care outside of the home
  • Bereavement care and counseling to surviving family and friends

Hospice administrators coordinate the hospice team to ensure patients receive the appropriate level of care. Hospice patients receive one or more of the following levels of care:

  • Home-based care
  • Continuous home care
  • General inpatient care
  • Inpatient respite care

Hospice administrators manage the programs and care provided to hospice patients. Their daily job responsibilities include:

  • Recruiting and hiring hospice personnel
  • Evaluating and implementing policies
  • Fundraising
  • Collaborating with members of the hospice team to evaluate and coordinate patient care plans
  • Overseeing a team of nurses, therapists, social workers, and volunteers
  • Performing financial budgeting activities
  • Ensuring compliance with healthcare regulations

How to Become a Hospice Administrator: Degree and Certification Requirements

Becoming a hospice administrator generally involves completing the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • The first step to becoming a hospice administrator involves completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Many hospice administrators begin their careers as registered nurses; however, many also possess undergraduate degrees in disciplines such as:

    • Health administration
    • Business administration
    • Finance
    • Human resources
  • A master’s degree in health administration or a related field
  • The standard among hospice and other healthcare administration professionals is the master’s degree in health administration, which is structured a number of ways depending on the school or college that houses the program:

    • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
    • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
    • Master of Science (MS)
    • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
    • Master of Public Health (MPH)

    A master’s degree in health administration prepares students via a competency-based education designed to prepare them for challenging leadership positions in healthcare administration, including hospice administration.

    Many institutions offer master’s degrees in health administration that appeal to traditional students, mid-career professionals, and/or those desiring an accelerated program with distance study opportunities. The core curriculum of these programs includes study in:

    • Healthcare finance
    • Clinical issues for health services management
    • Quality improvement in healthcare
    • Healthcare marketing
    • Health economics
    • Health law
    • Information systems in health services administration

    Many of these programs also include a capstone project, designed to allow students to apply their recently acquired knowledge to a contemporary topic in health administration.

  • Certification as a Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator
  • Hospice administrators may choose to demonstrate their specialized knowledge and expertise by achieving certification through the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses.

    The Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator (CHPCA) certification requires candidates to possess at least two years of full-time hospice or palliative administrative experience before they can sit for the computer-based examination. The exam tests candidates’ knowledge of the following topics:

    • Leadership and ethics
    • Fiscal management
    • Operations
    • Human resources management
    • Quality management
    • Community outreach and advocacy
    • Organizational integrity and compliance

State Licensing Requirements for Hospices

Hospice administrators, unlike nursing home administrators, do not need a state license to practice. However, they must work in a hospice licensed by the state. Hospices must meet state requirements, which usually include operating within the state’s definition of a hospice.

Most states recognize hospices as providing the following basic services:

  • Skilled nursing services
  • Counseling services
  • Medical direction
  • Volunteer services
  • Inpatient care
  • Home health services/homemaker services
  • Social work services
  • Therapies (physical, occupational, speech, etc.)

State regulations also define the requirements of the members of the hospice care team. In South Carolina, for example, hospices must designate an individual to serve as an administrator/director, who must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, or an associate’s degree and at least three years of experience in a health-related field within the past five years.

What is the Difference between Hospice and Palliative Care?

Palliative care focuses on ensuring patient comfort while relieving the symptoms related to chronic illnesses. Palliative care optimizes a patient’s quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating the suffering caused by illness and aging. Although hospice care is palliative in nature, the administration of palliative care occurs during any stage of a patient’s illness, while the administration of hospice care occurs when the patient’s illness has progressed to a point where a curative treatment is no longer desired or beneficial.

Both hospice and palliative care supports the patient and the patient’s family while focusing on relieving symptoms and offering comfort from pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, constipation, insomnia, etc.

Hospice administrators may oversee both hospice and palliative care, provided to patients with chronic diseases and illnesses, such as:

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory disease
  • Stroke/coma

Salary Expectations for Hospice Administrators

According to 2015 salary and benefits report published by the Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Service, hospice directors of clinical services earn an average salary of $76,445, with the top 10 percent earning $124,604.

According to the Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Service, hospice directors of bereavement services earn an average salary of $46,696, with the top 10 percent earning $95,867.

Resources for Hospice Administrators

Back to Top