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What is Healthcare Administration?
Health administration is an ideal career for people who want to create and manage healthcare systems intended to address the health of the community as a whole. These professionals generally have many responsibilities, including coordinating medical and health services, establishing educational programs, ensuring adherence to healthcare policies and laws, supervising staff, and managing overall financial effectiveness.
The majority of professionals work 40 hours a week, with approximately three out of every 10 reporting weekly hours exceeding this in 2020. Weekend and holiday hours are possible, especially in facilities that offer services at all hours.
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Online Healthcare Administration Education in Arkansas
Healthcare administration is a rapidly growing field, with more individuals seeking to pursue a healthcare administration degree. The demand for qualified healthcare administrators is increasing due to the growth of the healthcare industry, and the need for healthcare administrators is expected to rise as the industry continues to expand. Healthcare administrators are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a healthcare facility and ensuring that the facility runs smoothly and efficiently. They must also provide that the facility is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.
To become a healthcare administrator, an individual must possess a healthcare administration degree. Healthcare administration degree programs typically require students to complete a combination of core coursework and electives. Core coursework typically focuses on topics such as healthcare law, healthcare policy and ethics; healthcare finance and accounting, management, and organizational communication. Elective courses vary depending on the program, but may include topics such as healthcare quality management, healthcare information systems, healthcare economics, and healthcare technology.
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A healthcare administration degree can be obtained at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Associate degree programs typically take two years to complete and provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level healthcare administration positions. Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete and cover more in-depth topics related to healthcare administration. Master's degree programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in advanced topics such as healthcare leadership, healthcare policy and regulation, and healthcare economics. Doctoral degree programs typically take three to five years to complete and involve more research-focused coursework.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
Typically, the minimum educational requirement for health administration positions is a bachelor’s degree. This does vary depending on the employer, but most medical facilities will not hire individuals without an undergraduate education. Some higher-level jobs, however, will not consider candidates without a graduate degree.
Arkansas has a number of good undergraduate degree programs for people interested in a health administration career. Program titles will vary, but some potential degree options include Health Information Management, Health Services Administration, and Business Administration with a concentration in Health Care Management. Both Harding University and the University of Central Arkansas offer undergraduate programs in this field.
While all programs differ slightly from school to school, they generally consist of approximately 120 hours of coursework. Harding University’s Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences consists of 136 credit hours and the University of Central Arkansas’ Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a Health Services Administration emphasis consists of 124 credit hours. As with most undergraduate programs, both of these can be completed within a four-year period.
Common course offerings for undergraduate health administration programs include:
- General Pharmacology
- Administration of Health Programs
- Health Education in a Medical Setting
- Labor and Employee Relations
- Medical Terminology
- Information Processing and Analysis
- Principles of Macroeconomics
- Health Care Legal and Ethical Issues
- Principles of Microeconomics
- Principles of Accounting
- Production Management
- Managing Customers and Markets
- Risk Management
- Methods and Materials
- Legal Issues in Health Care: Regulation and Compliance
- Community Health Problems
- Facility Planning
- Environmental Health Problems
- Drug Education
- Administration of Health Programs
- Technology Applied to Health Sciences
- Systems Analysis and Design
- Health Care Finance
Online Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
While an undergraduate degree is often enough for entry-level health administration positions, graduate degrees are becoming more and more necessary. Having a master’s degree in health administration, business administration, or a related field qualifies professionals for more employment opportunities and generally increases pay.
Arkansas has a number of good graduate programs in a health administration field. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offers a Master of Health Administration degree that consists of 51 credit hours. Harding University has a 36 hour Master of Business Administration in Management and Business Ethics program. Arkansas State University also offers a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Healthcare Administration that consists of 29 credit hours. Full-time students can expect to complete any of these programs in about two years.
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
While health administrators are generally responsible for a wide variety of tasks and have positions that are very demanding, they are generally paid quite well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers earned a median salary of $118,800 in the year 2020. Those with positions in the top 10 percent of the pay scale, however, made annual median salaries of more than $189,000. Notably, professionals in jobs within the bottom 10 percent of the pay scale made less than $58,820.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arkansas employed a total of 5,580 medical and health services managers in the year 2020. When compared to high-population states like California, Texas, and New York, which collectively employed around 95,000 health administrators, this number may seem relatively low. However, Arkansas is one of the top five states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for healthcare managers. This means the state has a higher share of employment in the field than average, making it a promising option for those looking for work.
The majority of positions available in 2020 were located in Jonesboro, Conway, Little Rock, Hot Springs, Fort Smith, and Pine Bluff. These metropolitan areas have significantly bigger populations that require more medical services. The nonmetropolitan area in north Arkansas also boasted a higher number of health administration positions.
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The average yearly salary for each of these locations is below:
- Jonesboro – $94,210
- Conway – $98,960
- Little Rock – $98,960
- Hot Springs – $75,780
- Fort Smith – $79,270
- Pine Bluff – $96,160
Some of the highest paying areas included Jonesboro, Conway, Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Pine Bluff. The locations with the lowest recorded salaries were the nonmetropolitan areas in east Arkansas and south Arkansas.
Arkansas may not employ as many total health administrators as high-population states like California, New York, and Texas, but job prospects in the state are still good. According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health service managers can expect to see employment increase by 32 percent between 2020 and 2030. While unspecific to Arkansas, the state is sure to experience a corresponding rise in open health administration positions.
As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the aging of the baby-boomer population is the primary reason for this predicted increase. This large group of the population is getting older and, as they do, the demand for quality healthcare services will rise significantly in the United States.
Also contributing to the projected increase in health administration jobs is a shift in the healthcare industry. In the past, major hospitals were the only facilities that had the technology and staff capable of completing certain medical treatments. Private practices, however, are slowly expanding upon the services that they provide. Whereas these healthcare providers may not have required health administrators previously, it’s likely they will soon have a greater need for these professionals. Individuals with experience in advancing medical technologies and management will be particularly valuable as this trend continues to develop.
Overall, the percentage of employment increase predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for medical and health services managers is much higher than it is in other professions. Individuals who have completed advanced degrees in the field, in particular, can expect very promising job prospects in the field. This is especially true for those who have training in and familiarity with health information technology, electronic health records, and informatics systems. These professionals will likely have more employment opportunities and will receive favor during the hiring process.
Health administration employment opportunities change regularly in Arkansas, but here are several examples of job titles that may be available:
Chief Operating Officer
Responsible for working with other key staff to execute practice strategies, overseeing the development of quality services, managing daily operations within multiple departments, and maintaining compliance with other healthcare agencies. Typical education requirements would include: Master’s Degree in Health Administration, Business Administration, or a related field is required.
Responsible for evaluating the use of business resources, monitoring workflow, identifying ways to improve productivity, supervising area team members, participating in administration meetings, implementing policies and procedures, and managing financial standards. Previous experience in healthcare management and a medical assistance certification is required.
Area Manager of Medical Operations
Responsible for monitoring financial reports, regulating compliance with healthcare policies, implementing departmental procedures, coaching team members, ensuring operational procedures are being followed, and tracking team productivity. Typical education required would be a Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare or a related field required.
Responsible for overseeing multiple care sites, managing revenue, developing community education plans, building relationships with healthcare referral sources, recruiting staff members, and establishing performance expectations. Minimum educational requirement is a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Nursing, or a related field preferred; Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration or Business Administration preferred.
*Please be advised that the positions described above are meant for illustrative purposes only. The goal is to provide a sampling of the types of opportunities in Arkansas, not to be a source of actual employment options. Any information included here does not guarantee job availability or employment as a health administrator.
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Prominent Employers in Arkansas
The majority of health administrators work for one of the following industries: hospitals, physician offices, residential care facilities, outpatient care centers, and the government. While there are a lot of other potential employers, these make up the largest percentage of employment in the field.
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Arkansas is home to a number of prominent health administration employers:
- Advance Care Hospital in Fort Smith
- Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock
- Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould
- Arkansas Surgical Hospital in North Little Rock
- CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock
- Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville
Health Administration Associations
There are a number of networking and idea sharing organizations available to professionals working in the health administration field in Arkansas. Professional resources are often extremely helpful, especially when dealing with difficult issues. Many also offer education and development opportunities, which can assist in keeping health administration professionals informed, make them more marketable, and lead to further job advancement.
Associations available include:
Arkansas Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
The Arkansas branch of MGMA seeks to help improve member management skills by sharing important information about the field, providing networking opportunities, and promoting educational conferences and lectures. The organization has a very close relationship with the Arkansas Medical Society.
Arkansas Health Executives Forum (AHEF)
AHEF is a chapter of the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE). This professional development forum for healthcare executives includes members at all levels, from consultants to students. By bringing these groups together, the association hopes to help members focus on professional development and positively impact the health administration field.
Arkansas Chapter of Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA)
The Arkansas Chapter of HFMA is a professional organization intended for those in charge of financial management in the healthcare industry. HFMA strives to provide its members with numerous continuing education opportunities, including certification programs, peer interaction, and leadership training. The organization also works to influence policy and promote high standards of conduct.
Arkansas Healthcare Human Resources Association
The Arkansas Healthcare Human Resources Association is the state chapter of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA). ASHHRA is closely affiliated with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and is a top source for a variety of resources, such as research, tools, and networking.
While Arkansas has no shortage of state health administration associations, many professionals become members of national organizations as well.
Additional resource options include:
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- American College of Health Care Administrators
- American Health Information Management Association
- American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administrators
- Health Care Administrators Association
- National Association of Healthcare Access Management
- National Association of Health Services Executives
- The Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators