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What is Health Care Administration?
Health care administration is the area of study and practice that prepares individuals for the management and operation of health care facilities and professionals, including the development and maintaining of budgets, hiring and firing, scheduling and other administrative tasks in a hospital or clinical setting combined with an understanding of medical procedure, cost and terminology that allows for proper review, oversight and decision making in light how it may affect business overall. Individuals in this field may or may not be medical professionals, though many in charge of specific departments have backgrounds as physicians or long term health care professionals.
What Will I Learn in Healthcare Administration?
Degree programs in healthcare administration are not clones of one another but similarities exist from program to program. As a result, there are key tenants students will learn when studying as part of a healthcare administration degree. Your degree-level, school pedagogy, electives, and area of concentration may vary but the key learning objectives in healthcare administration should remain constant. The top learning objectives for students enrolled in a healthcare administration degree include:
- Analyzing the array of forces impacting healthcare delivery systems and prudently arrive at decisions to positively impact an organization
- Understanding healthcare practices & principles specific to administration, law, management, and economics
- Adhering to professional, legal, and ethical standards of health care administration
- Learning key skills and industry knowledge to grapple with healthcare research, critical thinking, and problem-solving opportunities
- Applying key management principles of organizational development, team building, decision making, and collaboration
Degrees in Healthcare Administration
The number of degree programs in healthcare administration is substantial and with the advent of online degree programs, the choice is even more expansive. For students considering a future in healthcare administration, please take the time to thoughtfully consider the degree options below. As programs pique your interest and fit your professional priorities, simply request information from the schools on this resource page to learn more. The simple act of gathering information will include schools in your decision-making process or eliminate them from consideration based on your objectives versus a media publication pushing a meaningless ranking report to sell magazine subscriptions.
Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
The on-site or online bachelor degree program in healthcare administration is a 4-year program for full-time students with degrees conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) at most schools. The bachelor’s degree typically will combine liberal arts coursework such as communications, English composition, psychology, and sociology with core classes to provide students with a well-rounded education. Examples of core classes in healthcare administration include courses such as: organizational behavior, managerial accounting, financial accounting, ethics in healthcare, financial analysis, human resource management, strategic management, quality improvement management, healthcare economics, biostatistics, principles of microeconomics, healthcare informatics, and information technology for healthcare. Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree will be equipped to launch a career in healthcare administration with a variety of companies in entry-level supervisory roles. Career opportunities can include jobs such as patient coordinator, medical office manager, payroll coordinator, assistant office manager, contract manager, or practice manager.
Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
The online master degree track in healthcare administration can be conferred as a Master of Science (MS), Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) when coupled with a business school degree. The master’s degree is a 2-3 year program for most students but will depend on course load, pace, and amount of time taken on the thesis. Core curriculum generally will include upper-level classes such as: leadership, health law, organizational development, healthcare statistics, health policy, healthcare operations, health information management, and healthcare marketing. Graduates from the master’s degree program can find themselves prepared to tackle a number of challenges within healthcare as a health services manager, managed-care facility director, health services program administrator, or site director.
Doctorate in Healthcare Administration
The classroom-based or online doctorate degree in healthcare administration can be conferred as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) dependent upon the course load and curricular design of the school’s program. The doctorate program will take 4-6 years of full-time matriculation and longer for part-time students as a function of the number of credits taken at a given time and time spent to complete the dissertation project. Advanced coursework in the doctoral degree track will typically include: communications for healthcare administrators, research methods, quantitative reasoning, global health, project management, multidisciplinary approach to healthcare, practice-based research, quality management, healthcare governance, and executive management trends in healthcare. Objectives of a DHA or PhD program in healthcare administration will include: the ability to think critically about business objectives, effectively manage public relations issues, adopt integrative thinking to effectively communicate with stakeholders, execute practice-based research, and adhere to data-driven management decision making.
Obtaining a degree in health care administration prepares individuals to work in the health care industry as managers. Health care administration is the process by which the health care is planned out, coordinated, supervised and implemented. Degrees in health care administration are available from the bachelor's level on, though most individuals will seek at least a master's degree. It is important to note that similar degrees can also be obtained to work as a health care administrator, such as a business administration degree or public health. A master's program can take between 2-3 years to complete and will often include a year of supervised administrative work.
Health care administration programs emphasize the development of certain skills deemed important for a working professional in such an environment. Such skills provide individuals with the ability to manage groups and operate the business. Some of these skills include problem solving, communication, analytical ability, technical skill, and an attention to detail. Additionally an emphasis on medical terminology and an understanding of medical procedures is also developed in order to ensure that the administrator is able to function in a health care environment.
Courses offered in a health care administration program may include:
- Health Care Finance
- Health Care Operations
- Health Care Human Relations Management
- Strategic Marketing and Communication
- Organization Development
Online Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
Employment Opportunities and Specialization
Though a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some entry level positions, a master's degree is typically required for advancement. A health care manager will have varying responsibilities based on where he or she will work. In a smaller setting a health care manager may be responsible for policy, financing and hiring, whereas in a larger setting such a hospital he or she may only be responsible for a specific department and physicians will outline policy. Health care administration is expected to grow faster than average in the coming years as the need for effective healthcare management increases. This is a competitive field, beginning at the post-secondary level where space is limited.
Healthcare administrators work in a variety of medical facilities with varying levels of responsibility. Larger locations will have more administrators with specializations and a hierarchy. Some will oversee departments, setting schedules and running day to day tasks. Smaller locations will have fewer administrators with a larger set of responsibilities. Locations for employment include hospitals, physician's offices, nursing homes, clinics, outpatient care centers and other.
Individuals may seek to specialize in healthcare administration. This is accomplished by focusing on a particular form of administration, and the type of healthcare provided. Specialization is normally obtained through work experience, though additional classes may be taken to augment one's education in regards to their desired field. Often individuals may become specialized through availability of positions and longevity, though no specialization should preclude an individual from lateral movement or promotion.
Salary, Related Fields and Additional Information
The average salary of a healthcare administrator is $96,540 with the top 10% earning $172,240 a year and the bottom ten percent earning $56,970 a year on average. The average wage increases in settings that serve more physicians, usually in large hospitals located in populated urban centers. Experience and education also play a factor in increasing one's wages, with individuals holding degrees and having a work history in administration earning more than individuals who have entered the field through alternative means. Employment is expected to grow at a rapid 17% pace or nearly three times the national average adding some 56,300 jobs in healthcare administration during the coming decade.
Top Employers of Healthcare Administrators
- Medical and Surgical Hospitals 114,300
- Physician’s Offices 36,930
- Outpatient Care Centers 23,640
- Nursing Care Facilities 21,620
- Home Healthcare Organizations 20,020
States with the Highest Employment of Healthcare Administrators
- California 33,160
- New York 26,010
- Texas 21,840
- Ohio 15,540
- Pennsylvania 13,640
Top Paying States of Healthcare Administrators
- District of Columbia $142,380
- New York $135,640
- Connecticut $129,710
- California $122,800
- Alaska $121,530
Those interested in health care administration may also be interested in medical administration, business administration and medical insurance specialist.