Individuals interested in pursuing a degree in health management or administration probably do so with a career in mind. Before selecting a degree major, you should ask yourself – is this for a job in a field related to the degree, or is it out of interest only? For example, you have had an interest in reading various books or magazines on psychology. This interest in the subject blossoms into choosing this as a college major. Great! But without at least a master’s degree, finding a job where you can apply your knowledge in psychology will be limited.
Health administration is different because there are jobs with a bachelor’s degree where you can directly apply the degree. Many opportunities exist in a variety of healthcare settings. Examples are general and surgical hospitals, hospice, rehabilitation facilities, clinics, non-profit organizations, nursing homes, health care data, and physicians’ offices. Depending on the area of specialization and degree level, you may find work in health informatics, medical records, coding, data analysis, accounting, and finance. Therefore, health administration is a multifaceted occupation.
From the information above, you need to decide where your strengths lie. If your skills are in computers and data analysis, you should opt for courses that favor this area. A healthcare data analyst gathers patient billing records, surveys, expenses, budgets and then incorporates the data into the software. Analytics has the potential to reduce operating costs, predict influenza outbreaks, track opioid abuse, improve staffing, and improve patient care, among others.
Before studying health administration, do you want to be in the limelight or a supporting role? The prior paragraph outlines someone as a supporting cast member – although crucial to the business’s success. A position in the spotlight may suit individuals who aspire to be in management – starting at entry-level and working your way to the upper echelon. Perhaps in senior management at a large general hospital. Each requires its specific skill set and attributes.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports on Medical and Health Services Managers’ occupation as employing 422,030 as of May 2019 (most recent data). According to the BLS, the majority work in General Medical and Surgical Hospitals (125,230). One could surmise from this number that most positions are in a leadership role.
Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) in Philadelphia lists the following administration jobs outside of the hospital:
- Clinic Administrator
- Department of Public Health & Human Services Health Care Administrator
- Nursing Home Administrator
- Health Information Manager
- Consulting Health Care Administrator
- Insurance Underwriter
- Social Welfare Administrator
- Health Care Program Director
- Hospice Administrator
As is evident, all these positions, except underwriting, involve someone with the confidence, determination, and soft skills to provide leadership and direction. If you see yourself performing with enviable recognition in management, then health administration could be the appropriate major to study.
Another consideration before your studies commence – what degree is best? There are college and university programs from Associate to Doctorate. SJU states that a Master’s degree is a prudent choice for advancement. A graduate program in healthcare administration typically improves career offerings and higher salary potential. There are numerous online and on-campus formats; the former is available at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which you can complete in as few as 15 months! The school also offers a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration with concentrations in either Health Information Management or Patient Safety & Quality. There is also a B.S. in Business Administration – Healthcare Administration.
Metro areas with the greatest number of Medical and Health Services Managers (BLS):
Worth noting is the BLS median salary of $104,280 is based on a Bachelor’s degree as an entry-level education and less than five years of experience. If you peruse current job postings on sites as Indeed, you’ll see that plenty stipulate an undergraduate degree in business, health administration, or nursing. Most require experience; however, your time might be more productive working in the profession instead of studying full-time for a graduate degree. Some postings will accept a master’s degree in place of experience.
Regardless of your education associated with healthcare, this field will continue to grow faster than most. The BLS predicts a 32% change in jobs from 2019 to 2029 or 422,030 openings. An expanding elderly population compounds the need for people in all aspects of healthcare. The U.S. Government census data report that the number of people over 65 exceeds the population under 65.