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What is Healthcare Administration?

When we think of healthcare professionals we tend to think of doctors, nurses, technicians, and emergency responders. Those professionals work on the front lines, but there is a whole other category of professionals who work behind the scenes to ensure that patients and providers are both fully supported.

Healthcare administration professionals do just that – ensure healthcare is delivered in a smooth and sustainable way. They provide management and oversight related to daily operations, accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, strategic planning, donor relations, and countless other responsibilities. Some have very broad managerial duties, while others focus very specifically on teams, projects, or processes.

Demand for health administration professionals is strong across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand will grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026, which is considered much faster than the growth in demand for other professions. In 2016 there were an estimated 352,200 health administrators working in the US, but another 72,100 are expected to be needed by 2026.

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Healthcare Administration Education in Michigan

Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)

There is not a strict definition of what a health care administration professional does, but they typically monitor and manage others. Some entry-level positions may be open to job seekers with a relevant associate’s degree, but having a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution is normally the minimum level of education required.

Types of Undergraduate Programs

Undergraduate programs are available throughout Michigan, but it is not necessary to earn a degree in the state to work there. Today’s health care administration students have lots of flexibility deciding where, when, and how to pursue their education.

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Here are a few options to consider:

  • In-Person: The majority of the coursework is done on campus, face-to-face with an instructor.
  • Online: The majority of the coursework is done online, and most resources are accessed digitally.
  • Hybrid: Coursework is balanced between in-person and online environments.
  • Nights/Weekends: The majority of coursework is done in person, but at times and locations more convenient to people with jobs or family commitments.

Heath administration programs are more common at the master’s level, but a number of undergraduate institutions now offer degree programs. They typically cover the same issues and topics, but they may go under different titles at different institutions. Look for these common examples, and be sure to investigate any Health Care Administration degree program in-depth before making a formal commitment:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Administration
  • Bachelor of Health Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Administration.
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management

Earning a relevant bachelor’s degree is the best way to fast track a career in healthcare administration, but some professionals do not earn a relevant degree until the graduate level. It may be possible to enter the administrative field with a degree in biology, social work, or basic business administration. And, in most cases, it is possible to enter a health administration graduate program without a relevant bachelor’s degree. Getting started early may be ideal, but it’s not essential.

Students who do elect to study health administration at the undergraduate level will typically complete at least 120 credits. The focus on health administration will start generally but go more in-depth with time. Degrees also incorporate general business and liberal arts coursework to round out the student’s foundation of knowledge.

The exact curriculum is different at every school, but students can expect courses like these:

  • Organization and Management in Healthcare
  • Issues in Ethics for Healthcare Administrators
  • Healthcare Statistics
  • Economics of Healthcare
  • Marketing of Healthcare
  • Introduction to Public and Community Health
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Plans and Insurance
  • Accounting in Healthcare
  • Strategic Leadership in Healthcare

Undergraduate programs do not typically require hands-on experience as a condition of graduation. However, some programs facilitate these opportunities, and some make them mandatory. Experience is as important as education, which is why working as a health administrator as soon as possible pays career dividends long down the line.

Getting that experience in Michigan is easy because the state does not require health administrators to have a license, certificate, or other formal permission to work. Employers set the conditions of employment, and they are free to hire whoever they choose for almost any role. This is important for health administration students because once they graduate they have all the credentials they need to begin pursuing a career to the fullest.

Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

It may be possible to start a career in health administration with just a bachelor’s degree. To advance and become a master of health services, however, it’s usually necessary to earn at least a master’s degree. Again, options are available across the state of Michigan and in a number of formats that facilitate working professionals and parents.

Types of Graduate Programs

Graduate programs explore advanced topics in health administration while allowing students to pursue the special topics and interests relevant to their own careers. Program options vary across institutions, but these are some of the most common degrees avaiable.

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Master of Public Administration

Each of these majors focuses in whole or in part on healthcare administration specifically. Each institution creates its own curriculum, but students will typically take some combination of courses like these:

  • Administration of Healthcare Organizations
  • Methods of Health Services Research
  • Health Economics
  • Human Resources in Healthcare Organizations
  • Strategic Planning and Marketing in Healthcare Organizations
  • Financial Management for Healthcare Organizations
  • Healthcare Law
  • Health Policy and Politics
  • Population Health Management

A master’s degree requires 32-60 credit hours to complete, which typically takes full-time students two years. In addition to coursework, students must often complete an independent research project, satisfy an internship requirement, or pass a comprehensive examination at the end of the program.

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Doctoral degrees in health administration are available, and many high-level executives have one. However, a terminal degree is not necessary for most positions and does not limit an administrator’s opportunities for advancement.

Careers and Salary Outlook

Salary and Earnings Potential

The outlook is just as optimistic in Michigan specifically. Between 2014 and 2024 the state is estimated to hire 10% more health administrators. That represents an increase from12,500 administrators in 2014 to 13,740 in 2024.

The rise in growth is likely to facilitate an increase in pay. The median salary for these professionals in 2019 was $108,740, which is on par with the national average for others in this field. Top-earners can expect to make a lot more, with upper-echelon salaries in the state averaging $179,330.

A career in health administration offers everything most job seekers are looking for – work that is interesting, challenging, and meaningful, compensation that is competitive, and opportunities that are abundant at all levels both now and into the future.

Career Options

The best way to get a health administration job in Michigan is to know what today’s employers are really looking for. The job openings outlined below are actual vacancies as of July 2018. These openings are here for instructional purposes only.

There is no guarantee they are still available, and these employers have no connection with this site:

  • Practice Manager, Alma, MI – A physician’s office is looking for a health administration professional to oversee daily operations. Responsibilities include drafting policies and protocols, supervising staff, coordinating with physicians, assisting with hiring/firing, and managing scheduling and budgeting. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and experience managing a healthcare environment.
  • Director of Specialty Care, Jackson, MI – One of the largest health systems in Michigan is looking for a health administration professional to take the lead on specialty care. Duties include planning, organizing, and directing the practice according to performance benchmarks and strategic initiatives. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in health administration and at least five years’ experience with physician practice management.
  • Manager of Compliance, Grand Rapids, MI – A rehabilitation hospital is looking for an experienced health administrator to handle all aspects of regulatory compliance. Primary duties include assessing areas of compliance risk and developing strategies to ensure consistent compliance. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in a clinical field or in risk management as well as five years of relevant experience.

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Additional Helpful Resources

Prominent Employers in Michigan

One of the reasons that Michigan is such a great place for health administrators is because there are large and diverse employers all across the state:

  • St Joseph Mercy, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI
  • University of Michigan Health and Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI
  • Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI
  • Bronson Healthcare Group, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Genesys Regional Medical Center, Grand Blanc, MI
  • Sparrow Hospital, Lansing, MI

Health Administration Associations

Advancing in a career requires a proactive approach. Health administration associations in Michigan connect professionals throughout the state with resources, advocacy, and networking opportunities. They are an essential asset for developing professionally and moving up the career ladder.

Consider joining one of these leading organizations:

  • Health Care Association of Michigan
  • Michigan Health & Hospital Association
  • Michigan Association for Local Public Health
  • Michigan Medical Group Management Association
  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
  • Healthcare Administrators Association

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