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What is Healthcare Administration?
Healthcare administrators often work in offices, but often interact with other professionals, like physicians, surgeons, nurses, and technicians. Despite the fact that some of these jobs will not directly involve patients, they require some patient interaction. In addition, workers might also have to deal with insurance companies. In order to obtain a career within this field, skilled communicators must have knowledge and experience of health care delivery and financial structure, as well as a solid grasp of medical terminology as well as an understanding of the structure and dynamics of healthcare organizations.
While the responsibilities of health administrators are often multifaceted and vary greatly from job to job, these professionals frequently plan, direct, and coordinate the services offered by single or multiple healthcare facilities. Their jobs are often demanding, but can pay quite well.
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Healthcare Administration Education in Pennsylvania
Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
Generally speaking, most health administration employers will expect candidates to have acquired at least an undergraduate degree. While there are some associate degree programs offered in Pennsylvania, most companies and organizations prefer their employees to have a bachelor’s degree in health administration, business administration, public health, or a related field for entry-level positions.
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Pennsylvania has many colleges and universities that offer undergraduate programs that help to prepare students for a career in the health administration field.
Several of these institutions are listed below:
- Lebanon Valley College
- Misericordia University
- Pennsylvania State University
- Pennsylvania College of Technology
- Thomas Jefferson University
- University of Pittsburgh
Students are typically required to complete 120 credit hours of coursework in order to attain a bachelor’s degree. Full-time students can usually do this within four years, but some programs may require five. It’s also not uncommon for undergraduate programs to differ slightly from institution to institution.
While specific course requirements will vary, common offerings include:
- Quantitative Methods
- Organizational Behavior
- Management of Human Resources
- Business Financial Management
- Introduction to Health Systems
- Managed Care
- Health Care Strategic Management
- Current Issues and Trends in Health Care Management
- Introduction to Information Systems
Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
An undergraduate degree is often the minimum educational requirement for health administration professionals, but the majority of employers expect candidates to have a graduate degree for higher-level positions. Seeking a master’s degree will provide more and better paying employment opportunities.
Prospective graduate students should take care when selecting their program, as not all are accredited. Accreditation by the Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) ensures the program consists of appropriate content and that certain quality standards have been met.
The CAHME currently accredits five universities in Pennsylvania:
- Pennsylvania State University
- Temple University
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Scranton
- Widener University
Students are typically required to complete 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework in order to attain a master’s degree. Full-time students can usually do this within two years, but some programs offer “fast tracks” for quicker completion. It’s also not uncommon for graduate programs to differ slightly from institution to institution.
While specific course requirements will vary, common offerings include:
- Accounting and Managerial Decision Making
- Strategic Financial Management
- Managing Business Processes
- Managing for Results
- Information Systems and Data Analytics
- Health Policy
- Managing Community Health
- Developing Management Skills
- Health Economics
- Health Care Operations and Quality
- Healthcare Law
- Administrative Issues
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers in Pennsylvania earned an average annual salary of $107,710 in 2020. The average hourly wage was $51.78. The professionals in the top 10 percent of the state’s pay scale made an average yearly salary of $165,300, while those in the bottom 10 percent made an average yearly salary of $57,440. These figures place Pennsylvania at the high end of the lowest paying states for health administration professionals in the nation.
It’s worth noting, however, that Pennsylvania had the fourth highest employment level for medical and health service managers in the profession. In 2020, the state employed 16,260 professionals, a number exceeded only by California, New York, and Texas. The areas with the highest employment level were Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Chester County.
Pennsylvania may not employ as many health administration professionals as California, but it is the state with the fifth highest employment level in the country. This means that the job prospects for individuals seeking medical and health service manager positions in this state are very good.
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The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) reports that the top 10 DOH civil service jobs include:
- Public Health Program Administrator
- Public Health Program Manager
- Health Facility Quality Examiner Supervisor
- Public Health Program Assistance Administrator
The fact that four of the ten top DOH jobs require a background in health administration bodes well for professionals in the healthcare field.
Nationwide Health Admin Growth
Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that there will be a significant, nationwide increase in employment opportunities for medical and health service managers over the next several years. Professionals can expect to see the demand for health administrators to spike by about 32 percent between 2020 and 2030. Compared to other reported professions, this rate of growth is extremely high.
There are many potential reasons for this projected increase in job availability, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that it’s most likely due to a large portion of the population aging. The baby-boomer generation is getting older and, as they age, additional quality health care services will be needed. Further, smaller healthcare facilities are now capable of providing patient services and treatments once only accessible at large hospitals. As technology improves and becomes more readily available, this movement is likely to escalate. The result will be an increased demand for health administration professionals capable of managing and overseeing more complex treatment practices and operational procedures.
Overall, job prospects for health administration professionals in Pennsylvania are quite promising. While specific employment opportunities change constantly, the following sample job titles are examples of the kind of jobs available:
- Director of Operations
Responsible for managing daily field operations in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region, leading team members, ensuring compliance with scheduling, establishing employee requirements, coordinating site recruitment, implementing provider incentives, and maintaining relationships with hospital administrations. Bachelor’s degree in business, healthcare management required; Master’s degree in business administration or a related field highly preferred.
- Cardiology Practice Manager
Responsible for managing assigned offices, overseeing workflow and policy compliance, providing human resources support, ensuring physician productivity, managing financials, coordinating office billing, and supervising patient scheduling and physician credentialing. Five to seven years professional experience required; bachelor’s degree in business management, finance, or healthcare administration preferred.
- Vice President of Healthcare Operations
Responsible for providing daily oversight of hospital operations, supervising and training the hospital management team, identifying business development opportunities, providing counsel and training to hospital employees, ensuring healthcare compliance, managing hospital financials, coordinating staff involvement to assist in hospital performance. Bachelor’s degree and five years senior level experience required; master’s degree in health administration or related field preferred.
- Physician Clinic Medical Director
Responsible for overseeing patient diagnoses and treatment, developing patient management plans, documenting medical records, managing daily medical operations, ensuring quality expectations are met, supervising clinical provider personnel, managing the clinic’s financials, developing collaborative working relationships, and participating in outreach events. Bachelor’s degree required; Doctor of Medicine required; four years clinical healthcare management experience preferred.
*Please take note that any and all of the positions listed above are intended for illustrative purposes only. While these positions were once available and help to demonstrate the type of jobs commonly offered, they are likely no longer available. These postings do not represent actual employment opportunities and in no way guarantee future employment.
Additional Helpful Resources
Prominent Employers in Pennsylvania
While health administration positions at hospitals, physician offices, residential care programs, outpatient care centers, and government facilities are not the highest paying, they are the most common. The majority of medical and health services managers work in one of these industries.
Some of the most prominent employers in Pennsylvania include:
- Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Wilkes-Barre
- Erie VA Medical Center in Erie
- Geisinger Medical Center in Danville
- Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia
- HealthAmerica Pennsylvania in Harrisburg
- Hershey Medical Center in Hershey
- Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster
- Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown
- Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia
- Philadelphia VA Medical Center in Philadelphia
- Pinnacle Hospitals in Harrisburg
- Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia
- UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh
- VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Pittsburgh
- Wilkes-Barre General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre
- Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre
Health Administration Associations
The state of Pennsylvania has a number of associations available to health administration professionals. Obtaining membership in one or more of these organizations is a great way to become more involved in the field. In additional to networking opportunities, the associations in Pennsylvania offer professionals a supportive atmosphere in which to ask questions and share ideas. Many organizations also provide continuing education workshops, conferences, training, and certification courses. By taking advantage of these great resources, health administrators can stay better informed about current issues and, in some cases, positively impact policy. Membership is particularly helpful for professionals new to the field and/or facing potentially complicated healthcare management situations.
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Some of the most prominent associations in Pennsylvania include:
- Eastern Pennsylvania Healthcare Executives Network (EPAHEN)
EPAHEN is the state chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives. It serves a number of counties, including Berks, Bradford, Monroe, and Pike. Members are given an opportunity to share experiences, network, attend educational events, and more.
- Pennsylvania Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
Pennsylvania MGMA is a state affiliate of the Medical Group Management Association. The chapter provides members with networking opportunities, as well as educational content, leadership development, advocacy, and other practice resources. It’s intended to assist both new and veteran medical practice management professionals.
- Pennsylvania Health Information Management Association (PHIMA)
PHIMA is the state affiliate of the American Health Information Management Association AHIMA), which is the world’s leading association for health information management. With over 103,000 health information professionals, AHIMA offers excellent professional education and training opportunities.
- Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA)
PHCA is an advocacy association for elderly patients and long-term healthcare providers. With over 500 for-profit, nonprofit, and government providers, the organization is committed to providing quality care and supporting an interest in establishing a healthcare delivery system for aging and disabled populations within the state.
- Healthcare Council of Western Pennsylvania (HCWP)
HCWP is a regional association made up of hospitals, long-term care facilities, long-term acute care providers, and specialty hospitals in 30 counties. The council strives to help members share best practices and collaborate to address common issues throughout the region. Members also have access to expertise in hospital operations, management, finance, and business development.
- Western Pennsylvania Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA)
HFMA is a national association intended to provide resources to healthcare financial management professionals. Members of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter have access to programs, publications, and partnerships at both the state and national level. The organization’s goal is to enhance the field and those within it.
While Pennsylvania is home to several supportive and active associations, professionals can join national organizations as well.
Some additional resources worth considering include:
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- American College of Health Care Administrators
- American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administrators
- Health Care Administrators Association
- National Association of Healthcare Access Management