Health/Health Care Administration/Management  Program Description


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dotOur nursing homes and hospitals need leaders that can solve problems, manage employees and interpret loads of information. A program in health administration trains people for this heavy job.

Today's health administrators need specialized education and business knowledge. Programs in health administration can be found in schools of business, public health, medicine, allied health and even architecture.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) says a master's degree is standard for this field.

Those with bachelor's degrees can expect to start as customer relations reps, benefits specialists, admissions coordinators or budget analysts. Those with master's degrees can occupy middle- to upper-level management positions.

"Clearly, the master's trained people are at the higher end of the food chain. And conversely, people who attain major levels of responsibility in such organizations have usually more advanced degrees," says professor Craig Higgins of Stonehill College in Massachusetts.

One- and two-year certificate or diploma programs are available. But according to health administration professor Sandra Drew, they are mostly taken by professionals already working in the medical field who want to learn additional business skills.

Typical courses cover the health-care system, health-care economics, health-care finance, information systems, statistics, organizational behavior, quality management and health-care marketing.

"The coursework parallels that of a business school, but the focus is on health care. The student does not have to learn the health-care applications on his or her own," says Jan Clement, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Graduate students can specialize, says Higgins. They can concentrate on long-term care, physician practice management, risk management, pharmaceutical and medical sales, mental health, or law and public policy.

After morning classes, many graduate students fill their afternoons at a residency -- a job at a hospital or other health facility. Homework assignments may revolve around the place they work.

For example, while working at a hospital, a professor might ask you to come up with a marketing plan for that particular hospital. And yes, you will need to hand in assignments on time, even if you are working your residency, reading your management books and attending classes.

Higgins recommends high school students volunteer at hospitals, nursing homes or managed care companies.

William Walence is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He says high school students should take courses in health or science. Although a science background is not needed, it is very helpful. Business courses and computer literacy are also important.

The Association of University Programs in Health Administration represents all accredited master's degree programs in the U.S. and Canada.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information on studying health administration, see: Medical and Health Services Managers

Explore Health
Check out the Health Administration/Management section for tips on succeeding in this sector

Glossary of Terms in Managed Health Care
A glossary of terms

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for a simple description.