Our 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
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
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 Careers.com
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