What is Healthcare Administration?
Health administration is a growing field. Our aging population and increasing access to insurance has enabled tremendous growth in the overall healthcare industry. Though there is growing demand for doctors, nurses, and other clinicians, there is also a large and growing demand for the administrators who maintain the organizational structure that helps deliver healing services.
Health administration workers are the many managers, marketers, analysts, and accountants that work behind the scenes in most hospitals and health services businesses. There are even information technology people who specialize in healthcare, as this sector has its own jargon, systems, and even hardware to manage. No matter what your specific skill set is, you are sure to find a great, lucrative career in healthcare administration.
Healthcare Administration Education in Indiana
Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
If you want to join this fast-growing, highly diversified field, you will first want to start with a bachelor's degree. These days, it's hard to enter any profession without an undergraduate degree, and healthcare administration is no exception. In fact, since the healthcare industry has grown into such a behemoth, there are degrees that are tailored specifically for it.
Consider working towards one of the following:
- Bachelor of Health Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration/Management
- Bachelor of Business Administration – with a concentration in healthcare administration
When you can show on your resume that your academic work was focused specifically on the healthcare industry, recruiters and hiring managers will pay attention. That is, your resume will clearly show that you are focused and determined to work in that area. That will stand out far above a resume that reflects a general education in marketing, business, or human resources, for instance.
Examine the Faculty and Visit Campus
Any educational program is only as good as its faculty. Thus, take a good look at who the institution has hired to educate you. It may be difficult to find much information on their part-time instructors, but you should be able to find biographies of their full-time faculty. Try to discern how many come from a practical, working environment as hospital administrators. There will be many whose experience is primarily in academia.
Academic experience is often just as valuable as "real-world" experience, but there is no ultimate guarantee either way. However, do not despair. If you find a program that has a good mix of these two general types of professor, you can be assured that you will be in a program that is well-rounded and diversified to meet your needs.
If possible, arrange a campus visit and sit in on classes, if that is allowed. Try to sit in on the courses you might be most interested in. However, any experience at this stage will be valuable. You should also seek out healthcare majors who can give you a better sense of the programs' strengths and weaknesses.
As you work through your bachelor's degree, you will take special courses that are tailored to the healthcare industry.
You might take courses that focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- Healthcare marketing
- Healthcare management
- Human resource issues in healthcare
- U.S. healthcare policy
- Healthcare laws and regulations
- Information systems in healthcare
- Communications in healthcare
- Medical ethics
- Medical terminology
Where to Study
There are many colleges in Indiana that will provide an accredited education in healthcare administration. A total of eight Indiana towns have such institutions. However, you might not be able to move to attend your preferred program, or you might have to work hours that generally prevent traditional classroom attendance. If that is the case, consider an online program.
First, check to see if your preferred program offers options for online students. Some programs insist that a certain percentage of your coursework take place in a traditional classroom. That sort of compromise might enable you to arrange a solution with your employer. However, you might be able to complete your entire degree online.
If you choose an online program, be sure that it will suit your specific needs. Many programs these days have moved to an asynchronous system that allows you to submit work at your leisure. Other programs, however, require that you log-in at certain times to participate in lecture discussions or some other interactive exercise. Check with your admissions counselor to see if you will receive as much flexibility as you'd like in an online program.
No matter if you desire an online or traditional program, make sure that the program is fully accredited. Look for a regional accreditation. This is very important because, when you apply to graduate school, they will likely only honor a transcript from an accredited institution. Accreditation will also matter if you decide to transfer your credits to a different institution part of the way through your studies.
Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
These days, you should be thinking of graduate school from the moment you begin work on a bachelor's degree. Some say that today's graduate degree is the economic equivalent of a bachelor's degree a generation ago. While it is currently a seller's market in the healthcare employment area, it won't always remain so. Further, you might find that one day you are competing for a job, so you will need every advantage you can get. A graduate degree, including an online Master of Science in Health Administration, will certainly set a high bar for your competition.
Just as undergraduate programs are offering degrees that focus on healthcare, so are graduate programs focused on the industry and its issues.
Since graduate school is where you become a master of a specific thing, you should certainly find a program that confers degrees such as the following:
- Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration
- Master of Healthcare Administration
- Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Master of Public Health
If you're looking for a diversified MHA degree that will pave the way for success in healthcare administration, but also open doors for all sorts of field work, the Master of Public Health degree might be a perfect choice. With this degree, you can help guide a hospital's policies and procedures, help them respond to various health emergencies and trends, and even take on an educational role for patients and clinicians alike. A master's in public health will open many doors.
If you choose this degree, you can focus on one or more of the following topics:
- Clinical effectiveness
- Global health issues
- Environmental health
- Health policy
- Quantitative methods
Some MPH recipients are working in third world countries to help improve their public health, but are also found working as independent consultants, and teaching future public health professionals as they work towards bachelor's degrees in the field.
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
To ensure that there is enough supply to meet this demand, there are rather large salaries available to those in healthcare administration. In May of 2019, the Indiana government notes that the annual mean wage for health services managers was $102,300. Indiana's analysts also show that there were a total of 79,960 working in healthcare support positions in May 2019.
Nationwide, the BLS shows that health services managers will see a sector-wide employment increase of 20 percent between 2016-2026. That is a growth rate that dwarfs most other employment sectors. The national numbers also show a median salary of $102,300 for the professionals who support your doctors, nurses, and other clinicians that deliver your healthcare.
Indiana offers a lot for a healthcare administration professional. There are many population centers where you can find gainful employment, but also remote farming villages whose local clinics and hospitals require your organizational acumen. Here is a brief list of job openings as of July 2018.
Consider these and how you might work to be the best candidate for the job:
- Practice Manager – you will put your organizational and administrative skills to good use in a New Albany clinic.
- Executive Director of Home Health Operations – manage home health operations in a Indianapolis healthcare company.
- Nursing Home Administrator – you'll keep geriatric care facilities in compliance with state and federal regulations, while maintaining a high level of patient care on a daily basis.
- Clinical Services Coordinator – this entry-level position only requires a high school diploma or a year's worth of experience, but you might implement your higher-level skills to take the position to a new level. This might also be a perfect job while you complete your degree in Health Care Administration.
Additional Helpful Resources
Prominent Employers in Indiana
When you start your healthcare administration career in Indiana, you will have many employers to pick from.
Here is a brief list of the larger healthcare providers in the state:
- Indiana University Health University Hospital in Indianapolis
- Saint Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis
- Adams Memorial Hospital in Decatur
- VA Northern Indiana Health Care System – Fort Wayne and Marion
- VA Outpatient Clinic in Bloomington
- Physicians Health Plan of Northern Indiana
- Columbus Regional Hospital
As the state, and industry, grows, you will surely have tons of opportunities for professional growth and development in the great state of Indiana.
Health Administration Associations
It is vital to join a professional association as you pursue your career. Associations provide loads of opportunities for professional development, leadership, advocacy, and fellowship. National and regional conferences offer the opportunity to learn from your fellows and you might even have the opportunity to lead a panel discussion or present a research paper.
Here is a list of the associations available in Indiana:
- Indiana Society for Healthcare Risk Management
- Indiana Pressler Memorial Chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Indiana Association for Healthcare Quality
- Indiana Health Information Management Association
- Indiana Primary Health Care Association
- Health Management Associates
- Health Care Administrators Association
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- Indiana Medical Group Management Association