Astute health professionals can see the potential in health care, because they are immersed in the industry’s work. With growth projected to be 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 56,300 new jobs added in health care management and administration, the time to position yourself for advancing your career is now.
When you become a health care services manager or health administrator, you’ll be expected to possess the skills to oversee a department, staff, resources, and/or processes. In addition, you’ll have to be up to date on medical technology, established and new regulations that govern patient care and hospital operations, and how changes in the insurance industry will impact patient care.
If you are interested in progressing in health care management or setting on a corporate career path in health administration, an advanced degree like a Master in Health Administration can help you prepare to meet the demand for effective health care leaders. In a quality program, you’ll develop skills to support the advancement of your career and establish a foundation of knowledge that can be built on as the industry evolves which sets you up for current and future success.
An MHA presents knowledge and critical thinking skills that can be applied to a healthcare profession, such as health care manager, administrator, or executive leader. In this degree program, you’ll gain competencies that help you manage a health services organization, department or consultancy in a private or public organization.
An MHA program covers topics such as:
- Managing a health care organization
- Economics in health care
- Organizational behavior
- Marketing and communication in health care
- Population health
- Operations management and improvement
- Financial management
- Regulations and laws governing health care
- Human resources
Although it’s common for students to enroll in an MHA because they want to move into health care management, some students with practitioner credentials and licensing may earn this degree to manage their own clinic or leverage their knowledge to move out of practice and into management.
The MHA differs from other advanced degrees, such as the Master of Public Administration (MPH) and Master of Business Administration (MBA), because it addresses health management in nonprofit, private and public institutions at the federal, state and local levels.
If you want to work in one of the operational areas that support a health care organization, examine your experience and career goals before exploring potential areas of focus. When you select your specialty, you’ll be able to shape your education to align with your career goals. Here are four popular areas of focus for an online MHA degree:
Patient records are a crucial part of health care and their secure and exact storage is essential to ensure patient privacy and proper treatment. Clinics must be prepared to adjust to changes in the scope of managing patient records when new regulations are enacted or evolving technology and hacking threats are introduced.
A specialization in health administration informatics can provide the knowledge to manage the organization, use and storage of patient records, and adjust when new regulations, technology and threats to security emerge. You can help hospitals, clinics and practices optimize record-keeping to meet regulations and patients’ needs, to help the organization run efficiently.
It’s no secret that human lifespan has increased throughout the civilized world, and the National Institute of Aging confirms that a fast-growing population is individuals who are over the age of 65. An aging population can place a greater strain on an unprepared health care system. Health care for the elderly isn’t limited to medical treatment, but it also encompasses preventive care, as well as emotional and social requirements.
What is a Master’s in Health Administration with a focus on gerontology? You may be tasked to develop strategies to handle a growing aging population, including medical practices that are specific to older adults. Individuals with this specialization may work with hospitals, clinics, or practitioners who specialize in providing care for older patients.
Running a health care organization takes more than health care practitioners; it requires individuals with the skills to help them reach revenue and quality goals so they can continue operating. Efficient management of all elements of a health care operation includes efficient staff supervision, managing patient records to meet regulatory and quality standards, financial, marketing knowledge, and much more.
With an online MHA with a specialization in operations, you will be able to focus on what it takes to successfully operate a thriving medical practice, private or public hospital, or clinic. Your education may be the stepping stone you need to become a director of a health care facility in a veterans hospital or become a health care consultant for small practices and laboratories.
#4 Health Policy
If you have extensive experience in business administration within the health care industry, this area of focus in an MHA program may be a natural next step for you. With its dynamic environment, health policy requires leaders who are driven to adapt policy to a rapidly changing environment to ensure effective medical treatment.
When you graduate from an online MHA degree program with a focus on health policy and administration, you may be able to work with medical facilities, federal regulatory agencies, public health agencies or consulting firms to assist in the rapid, efficient implementation of policies to create solutions for health care challenges.
Because health administration graduates are expected to have the knowledge to oversee the operations of a health care organization, including financial, regulatory, legal, operations, and human resources competencies, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field to qualify for enrollment. Some programs require employment in the health care field.
What is an MHA credit requirement? They range from 32 to 60 credits, and full-time students can typically complete this program within two academic years. Some online universities offer accelerated programs that complete in less than two years; however, students are not usually permitted to work while enrolled in some accelerated programs.
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