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FOCUS ON MAJORS

Healthcare Administration

Do you love the idea of a healthcare career, but hate the thought of all of the science classes required for a medical or nursing degree? If so, consider a major in health care administration, one of the fastest growing career paths in the healthcare industry.

 

When most people think of hospitals, they picture doctors, nurses and other medical caregivers.  However, behind the scenes, health care executives play a vital role in health care delivery by making sure that the systems and services are in place to support the work of medical personnel at hospitals, nursing facilities, managed care companies, and other health care organizations.

 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, virtually all new private sector jobs created in the last five years were in the healthcare industry.  Health care is the second largest employer in the U.S., employing over 11 million people, and health care administration/management jobs are expected to grow 28% over the next ten years.  Health care managers and executives are also well compensated, with a median pay of just over $101,000 a year.  Top executives at large hospitals can make $800,000 or more.

 

Health care managers, administrators and executives work in a variety of positions including patient care coordination, health communications and marketing, human resources and staffing, healthcare planning, finance, and information technology.  They don’t just work in hospitals, either. Health care executives can be found working in physician offices, managed care and insurance companies, and even in consulting firms and government agencies.  It’s an exciting and diverse field, offering lots of room for career growth and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to make a difference in people’s lives.

 

A career in healthcare administration might be right for you if you are:

  • Concerned with the health and well-being of people from all walks of life
  • A problem-solver who can keep up with ever-changing situations and new laws and regulations
  • A good communicator with excellent interpersonal skills
  • Analytical, detail-oriented, and organized

 

A bachelor’s degree in health care administration is usually a prerequisite for entry level jobs in healthcare management.  At present, 49 colleges and universities offer undergraduate majors in health care administration, certified by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA).  As a health care administration/management major in college, you’ll combine classes in business subjects such as accounting, marketing, human resources and information technology with healthcare-specific courses such as hospital management, health care policy, medical economics, and health delivery systems.  In many programs, you’ll also take classes in epidemiology (the study of disease causes and effects), health psychology, sociology and anthropology.  A healthcare administration major is flexible enough so that students considering medical school can also fit in the required science and math prerequisite courses.  

 

Most healthcare administration programs require majors to complete a semester-long internship in a healthcare organization; a few programs alternate classroom time with a full-time on-the-job learning program called cooperative education.  Some programs also allow students to specialize in specific areas of health care administration, such as health informatics. 

 

Another pathway into this field is to complete an undergraduate degree in a relevant academic area, such as business or public health, and then pursue a Masters degree in health care administration/management. 

 

Career Paths for Health Administration Majors:

  • Clinical Manager—runs the business side of a healthcare services facility
  • Health Information Manager—utilizes IT training to manage the databases that are required for a healthcare facility to run smoothly
  • Nursing Home Administrator— is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a nursing home
  • Community Health Coordinator—identifies and addresses health needs of a community
  • Chief Nursing Officer—oversees the health facility’s nursing department
  • Clinical Administrator—manages a clinic or out-patient surgery or serves as a department head in a hospital
  • Practice Manager—is part of the management team for a large medical practice

 

The Association of University Programs in Health Administration maintains a searchable database of certified undergraduate and graduate programs at:  Find a Program – Network (aupha.org)