As the largest industry in the country and the second largest employer, healthcare offers a wide range of employment options. The healthcare field, which has over 11 million jobs, includes everyone from physicians to researchers to pharmaceutical scientists. It also includes a growing field called healthcare administration, which deals with the “business” end of healthcare.
Healthcare administrators are found in the public and private sector, and though individual jobs vary, their day-to-day schedules often include a range of tasks such as budgets, staffing, healthcare policy and ethics, public relations and strategic planning. Healthcare administrators are divided into generalists, who manage a healthcare organization, and specialists, who work in a specific department within a larger organization.
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|MPH@Simmons||MPH@Simmons, the online Master of Public Health from Simmons College, is designed to give you the real-world skills you need to address health inequity on a local, national, and global level.|
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|MHA@GW||Offered by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, this online Executive Master of Health Administration program is designed for healthcare professionals who aspire to become leaders in their field.|
Though it’s possible to work as a healthcare administrator with a bachelor’s degree, those considering the field should look into higher education options like an MBA in healthcare management, an MBA in healthcare administration or an MBA in healthcare. Outside of the MBA track, a Master of Health Administration (MHA) is another great option as well. Having a master’s degree will open up more opportunities in addition to allowing you to start at a higher pay grade.
Why an MBA in Healthcare?
An MBA in Healthcare can help you advance into management and allow you more opportunities than a bachelor’s degree would. The education you receive in a master’s program will provide you with a solid understanding of business principles and necessary fundamentals, and combine those lessons with a focus specifically tailored to the healthcare industry.
This means that you’ll learn about things like healthcare policy, healthcare ethics, staffing and budgets for physician offices or healthcare facilities, personnel relations and healthcare law, but through the lens of finance, operations and marketing, so you can make important decisions regarding business operations. Potential classes might include Financial Management of Healthcare Organizations, Healthcare Policy and Ethics, or Healthcare Organizations. The goal is to allow students to gain an overall understanding of healthcare, but marry that knowledge with the fundamentals of business.
What to Expect in an MBA
Not all MBAs allow students to specialize in a specific healthcare track. It’s important to note that a general MBA might not focus on the issues you will encounter in the healthcare industry. It is imperative that the MBA program you choose has classes that specialize in healthcare policy, and preferably include a track in healthcare, if your goal is to work in healthcare administration.
In an MBA program, most of your classes will be rooted in business including accounting, finance and budgets. Since many of your peers in the program won’t have a healthcare focus, you’ll be introduced to a wide variety of people in the business world. This can be quite beneficial in the real world, because as a healthcare administrator, you’ll often be dealing with business people from all backgrounds. Additionally, in an MBA program you may have access to more leadership and professional development workshops.
Pursuing an MHA Instead
An MBA program with a concentration in healthcare can be a great fit for aspiring healthcare administrators, but a Master of Health Administration (MHA) can also give you many of the same benefits, or more, depending on the program. Because an MHA focuses specifically on the role of a healthcare administrator, it is a more specialized graduate degree than an MBA and can provide more in-depth healthcare-related coursework. Some employers prefer to hire graduates with a focused, industry-specific degree such as an MHA.
As you pursue advancement opportunities within the field of healthcare, the decision to get your MHA or MBA could completely change the trajectory of your career path. The range of employment options and pay scales available to you will increase greatly with an advanced degree. Enrolling in a competitive MBA or MHA will place you in a challenging program, so you’ll be ready to take on the rigorous day-to-day tasks of a healthcare administration professional.