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What is Healthcare Administration?

Administrators oversee the operations at healthcare facilities, also known as healthcare managers. They are responsible for developing healthcare systems that focus on community health, despite the fact that they are rarely in contact with patients. A healthcare administrator's job involves many different duties to ensure smooth operations.

Health administration is one of the fastest growing career options in Missouri and across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nationwide demand for health administration professionals will grow by 32% between 2020 and 2030. Over 139,000 new administrators are expected to enter the field on top of the 420,000+ already working there.

Demand is expected to grow in Missouri as well. In 2020 there were 7,650 health administrators working in the state. The average growth in demand for all professionals is only 7%, emphasizing how important health administrators are becoming across the country and in Missouri.

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Healthcare Administration Education in Missouri

Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)

There are lots of healthcare jobs open to applicants with just a high school diploma or an associate degree. Some even directly relate to hospital administration. However, in order for this to be a career and not just a job, professionals must have a bachelor’s degree.

Professionals enter the field with backgrounds in law, marketing, and health sciences. A dedicated health administration degree is not technically mandatory, but having one significantly increases the chances of getting healthcare jobs.

Bachelor’s program delivery models

Health administration bachelor’s degree are available at colleges and universities across Missouri. Students have lot of education options to consider, but it’s essential to attend an accredited institution. Otherwise, employers may not acknowledge the degree. Students must also decide which classroom format is most conducive to their learning style, schedule, and budget.

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  • In-Person: Students have the advantage of working closely with instructors, but the cost and strict scheduling could be issues.
  • Online: Digital classrooms are incredibly accessible, but some students struggle to stay motivated or digest the material.
  • Hybrid: A mix of online/in-person classes offers the best of both world, but there tends to be fewer of these programs than others.
  • Nights/Weekends: Alternative scheduling makes it easier for working professionals to attend classes, but these programs may take longer to complete.

Options for bachelor’s degrees

Health administration is a very broad topic that incorporates a number of different disciplines.

For that reason, degree paths often go by different names at different institutions:

  • Bachelor of Health Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Administration
  • Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Health Administration

Bachelor’s degree coursework

No matter what degree path you choose, the core curriculum is likely to be the same. In the first two years students focus on broad administrative topics. In the final two years students go in-depth with the topics and issues most important to health administration. Most programs require at least 120 credit hours to graduate.

The specific list of required and available courses is different at every institution, but courses like these are likely to be on the list:

  • Introduction to Health Care Systems
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Ethical Principles in Health Care
  • Health Care Accounting and Billing
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Research and Communication Techniques in Health Care
  • Health Care Risk Management
  • Strategic Planning and Implementation in Health Care
  • Organization Behavior and Leadership in Health Care

Some bachelor’s degree programs also require completion of an internship, independent research project, or practicum experience, though this requirement is not common. If hands-on experience is available, however, it’s an asset upon graduation.

Missouri does not require health administration professionals to heave a license or certificate to work legally. That means as soon as you have a bachelor’s degree you are eligible to apply for many entry-level health-administration jobs.

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Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

Some health administrators take on tremendous responsibilities including multi-million-dollar budgets, large and sprawling staff, and critical patient care programs. Not surprisingly, most high-level health administration jobs require a graduate degree. It is rare to see a doctoral-degree requirement, but having a master’s is obligatory for most executive positions.

Master’s programs typically take two years to complete, but students may be able to accelerate or extend that timeline based on their needs. Graduating requires 32-60 credit hours, and there are a variety of online, in-person, and hybrid options available. There are multiple programs in Missouri, but in-state attendance is not a professional requirement.

Master’s degree options

Graduate school is when health administration professionals begin to gain true expertise and specialized knowledge. They have the option to study health administration generally or to focus in on specific topics, issues, and settings.

Here are some popular options, but similar programs may go by different names at different schools:

  • Master of Science in Health Services Administration
  • Master of Health Services Administration
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Public Administration in Healthcare
  • Master of Business Administration in Healthcare
  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Long-Term Care

Master’s degree coursework

Students will take a mixture of required and elective courses. They will probably also be required to complete an internship of independent research.

Expect to find courses like these on the curriculum of any program:

  • Health Care Economics
  • Health Care Leadership
  • Health Care Management
  • Health Law and Policy
  • Human Resources and Health Care
  • Strategic Marketing
  • Strategic Management
  • Managing Information Systems and Technology
  • Designing Health Care Organizations

Health administrators at the highest levels are always in demand and compensated generously as a result. Once you have a graduate degree in health administration you’re qualified for some of the most prestigious and prosperous jobs in Missouri.

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Careers and Salary Outlook

Salary and Earnings Potential

In acknowledgment of this demand, salaries in the field and in the state tend to be generous. The median salary in Missouri in 2020 was $112,500, which is very close to the national average. Administrators in the top 90th percentile earned much more - $170,380. Even those in the bottom 10th percentile made just a little more than $60,000 per year.

Health administrators are so in-demand and so well compensated because they have an essential role in healthcare. Their role is to provide managerial oversight and strategic guidance so that healthcare organizations can sustain themselves. Administrators handle aspects of accounting, human resources, revenue management, marketing and much more. Some focus on very narrow priorities while others are at the helm of massive enterprises and institutions. For this reason, health administration is projected to be an in-demand career option for decades to come.

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Career Options

If you have or plan to have health administration education and experience, there are employers in Missouri who are eager to connect with you. Here is a sample of potential positions and job titles.

  • Practice Manager: A physician’s office within a large regional health group is looking for a health administration professional to oversee daily operations. This person will supervise staff, develop and implement strategic initiatives, manage financial performance, and report to a leadership committee. Required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in healthcare or business and at least 5 years of relevant experience.
  • Health Services Administrator: A correctional facility is looking and a health administrator to serve as the lead manager of healthcare services. Responsibilities include recruiting and managing staff, creating and overseeing the budget, developing an operational plan, and meeting contractual obligations. The ideal candidate has a bachelor’s degree in health administration and at least 3 years of relevant experience.
  • Patient Experience Coordinator: A large health system is looking for a health administration professional to monitor and improve every aspect of the patient experience. Daily responsibilities include improving patient satisfaction, minimizing risk exposure, facilitating communication, and drafting/reviewing policies. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree, but a required major is not specified.
  • Director of Materials Management: A hospital is looking for a health administrator to handle all aspects of materials management. Primary duties include purchasing materials, tracking inventory and distribution, managing vendors, and controlling costs. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in health administration or a related field, as well as 3+ years of relevant experience.

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Prominent Employers in Missouri

There are major employers in the two cities that bookend the state, as well as some sprinkled throughout mid-Missouri. Learn who has the largest ranks but be aware that qualified health administrators work throughout the state in both urban and rural areas.

These are the leading examples:

  • St. Luke’s Health System, Kansas City, MO
  • Washington University Medical Center, St. Louis, MO
  • Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, MO
  • Mercy Hospital, Springfield, MO
  • St. Johns Speech Therapy, Springfield, MO
  • Cox Medical Center, Springfield, MO
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO
  • University of Missouri Health Care, Columbia, MO
  • Freeman Hospital East, Joplin, MO

Health Administration Associations

Participating in a health administration association is one of the best ways to advance you career. Not only do you get access to relevant information and resources, you also form connections with some of the leading thinkers and major players in the state.

Consider joining one or more of these state-wide associations:

  • Missouri Health Care Association
  • Missouri Hospital Association
  • Missouri Association of Nursing Home Administrators
  • Missouri Rural Heath Association
  • Missouri Society for Health Care Human Resources Association
  • Missouri Health Information Management Association
  • Missouri Primary Care Association

Next Steps

Getting started as a healthcare administrator starts with education. Enrolling in a bachelor’s program is a great first step.

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