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What is Healthcare Administration?

Health administrators are frequently responsible for a wide variety of tasks within a single or multiple healthcare facilities. In the simplest terms, these professionals plan, direct, and coordinate the services provided by the company or practice they work for. While the work can be challenging, it does pay well.

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.

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Healthcare Administration Education in Rhode Island

Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)

While some healthcare facilities offer health administration positions that require only an associate degree, most employers expect to see, at least, an undergraduate degree. Generally, a bachelor’s degree in health administration, business administration, public health, or a related field will be sufficient.

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Despite Rhode Island being a small state, there are still several colleges and universities that offer undergraduate programs for individuals interested in entering the health administration field.

The program titles may vary, but each of the following institutions provides applicable degrees:

  • New England Institute of Technology
  • Providence College
  • Roger Williams University
  • Salve Regina University
  • Rhode Island College
  • University of Rhode Island

Undergraduate Coursework

Undergraduate students are generally expected to complete a minimum of 120 credit hours. Coursework requirements will differ from school to school, but the standard completion time for most programs is four years. Part-time students, individuals seeking dual-degrees, and those who want multiple minor degrees may require additional time. Most institutions do, however, accept credits from upper-level high school classes.

While specific course titles vary, common topics include:

  • Marketing
  • Principles of Health Care Management
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Computer Information Systems in Health Policy and Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Health Law
  • Productions and Service Operations Management
  • Issues in Global Health
  • Financial Management
  • Administration of the Extended Care Facility
  • Strategic Management in Health Care
  • Strategies for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
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Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

While an undergraduate degree in health administration, business administration, public health, or a related field will often suffice for entry-level positions, graduate degrees are becoming the standard. Health administration professionals interested in advancing their careers, having more job opportunities, and increasing their pay should strongly consider attaining a graduate degree.

In addition to numerous undergraduate program offerings, the state of Rhode Island has several colleges and universities with graduate programs health administration professionals will find useful.

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The program titles may vary, but each of the following institutions provides applicable degrees:

  • New England Institute of Technology
  • Providence College
  • Roger Williams University
  • Salve Regina University
  • Rhode Island College
  • University of Rhode Island

Graduate Coursework

Graduate students are generally expected to complete anywhere from 30 to 60 credit hours. Coursework requirements will differ from school to school, but the standard completion time for most programs is two years. Part-time students may require additional time, while those with extensive professional experience may be able to have certain requirements waived.

While specific course titles vary, common topics include:

  • Statistics for Public Health
  • Health Care Marketing
  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health Management
  • Social Marketing and Communications
  • Public Health Funding
  • Environmental Health
  • Public Health Evaluation
  • Ethics and Public Health Law
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Corporate Finance
  • Data Analytics for Business
  • Managerial Economics
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Careers and Salary Outlook

Careers and Salary Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers in Rhode Island earned an average annual salary of $130,620 in 2020. The average hourly wage was $62.80. The professionals in the top 25 percent of the state’s pay scale made more than $149,300 annually, while those in the bottom 10 percent made an average of $72,630. These figures make Rhode Island the sixth highest paying state for health administration professionals in the nation.

Rhode Island is also one of the states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for this field. The state employed 1,690 health administration professionals in 2020, a number that’s significant considering the overall population. The areas with the highest employment rate were Providence and Warwick.

Career Options

As a smaller state, it’s not surprising that Rhode Island employs significantly fewer health administration professionals than states like California, New York, and Texas. Job prospects in the state and across the nation, however, are still quite good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data that indicates there will be a significant increase in the demand for medical and health services managers in the United States. According to their estimations, there will be a 32 percent rise in employment opportunities for health administration professionals between 2020 and 2030 When compared to other professions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics affirms that the rate of growth for medical and health services managers is much faster than average.

The primary reason for this projected increase is the aging of the baby-boomer population. As this very large group of individuals gets older, there will be a higher demand for quality healthcare services across the nation. Over the next several years, the medical field is expected to have a greater need for physicians and new healthcare facilities, which will, in turn, result in a great need for health administrators to manage and organize them. Similarly, there should be more long-term care and nursing facility administration positions available as the baby-boomer population continues to age.

Another important factor that impacts the increase in health administration employment opportunities is the continued growth of health practitioner offices. In previous years, smaller facilities lacked the equipment required to perform all of the services larger hospitals did. As medical technologies improve, however, many of these services are becoming more accessible. This change will cause many facilities to expand and become more complex, a process which inherently requires the presence of qualified health administrators capable of managing and overseeing new treatment practices and daily operational procedures.

Additionally, electronic health records are becoming more prominent. As this trend continues, the demand for management professionals familiar with health information technology (IT) and informatics systems will increase. There will also be a number of health administrators who retire over the next decade, creating even more job openings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall job prospects for medical and health service managers will probably be favorable. Specifically, those professionals with a master’s degree and experience with healthcare IT will fare well in the field.

While employment opportunities change all the time, the following sample job titles are examples of the kind of positions available:

  • Multi-Site Practice Manager
    Responsible for demonstrating leadership, promoting a customer service mentality, conducting staff meetings, implementing organizational policies, managing site activities, maintaining office compliance, delegating work effectively, recruiting, maintaining inventory, and preparing business plans. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience required.
  • Director of Operations
    Responsible for developing operational strategies, assessing competitive threats, understanding community care regulations, implementing successful strategies, ensuring adherence to patient rights, supervising staff, performing reviews, and meeting financial management requirements. Bachelor’s degree in business administration, healthcare administration, or a related field required.
  • Site Manager

    Responsible for hiring staff, assuring consistent use of resources, ensuring optimal patient experience, developing annual budgets, monitoring department goals, implementing system improvements, maintaining administration statistics, and meeting organizational goals. Bachelor’s degree in business or health administration required; master’s degree in business or health administration is strongly preferred.

    *Please be aware that the positions included in this article are meant to illustrate potential job prospects in the health administration field. The opportunities listed above should not be confused as actual job postings.

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Prominent Employers in Rhode Island

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the highest paying health administration positions in 2020 were found in industries like pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, scientific research and development services, electromedical and control instrument manufacturing, and computer systems design. Most professionals in the field, however, work for a general medical hospital, specialty hospital, physician’s office, medical and diagnostic laboratory, residential care program, outpatient care center, or a government facility.

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With this in mind, some of the most prominent health administration employers in Rhode Island include:

  • Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston
  • Rhode Island Hospital in Providence
  • Kent County Memorial Hospital in Warwick
  • Miriam Hospital in Providence
  • Newport Hospital in Newport
  • Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket
  • Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket
  • Saint Joseph Health Services in North Providence
  • Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence
  • Providence VA Medical Center in Providence

Health Administration Associations

National and state associations offer health administration professionals access to a number of very important resources.

Some of the most notable benefits of becoming a member of one or more of these organizations include potential access to:

  • Networking opportunities
  • Helpful forums
  • Conferences
  • Training
  • Internships and job opportunities
  • Certification courses
  • Other more experienced professionals
  • A supportive and encouraging professional atmosphere
  • Up-to-date healthcare policy information
  • A place to ask questions and share ideas
  • Continuing education workshops

In general, association members are better informed regarding policy and can, under some circumstances, assist in creating positive change at both the state and national levels. These organizations are also often extremely helpful for new professionals. This is because they encourage more extensive involvement in the field as a whole and provide a supportive sounding-board for those faced with potentially complex management situations.

Fortunately, the state of Rhode Island is home to several different associations that healthcare administration professionals may find useful.

Some of the most prominent associations in the state include:

  • Massachusetts/Rhode Island Medical Group Management Association (MA/RI MGMA): MA/RI MGMA is a professional association dedicated to delivering optimal patient care in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The organization seeks to enhance and develop the profession by offering education, tools, resources, and networking opportunities to its members. As a state affiliate chapter of the Medical Group Management Association, members are also granted access to monthly events, leading analysts, enriched educational content, leadership development, emerging technology, complimentary webinars, and a listserv.
  • Rhode Island Health Information Management Association (RIHIMA): RIHIMA is the Rhode Island state affiliate of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), which is the world’s leading association for health information management. AHIMA has a membership of over 103,000 health information professionals and offers extensive education and training opportunities. RIHIMA has about 125 active members.
  • Rhode Island Health Care Association (RIHCA): RIHCA is a nonprofit association that seeks to provide quality healthcare to Rhode Island residents. The organization provides helpful long-term care information, education, and administrative tools to its members, which consist of nursing homes, consumers, and policymakers. Other benefits include access to networking opportunities, committees, satellite groups, educational programs, and a trade show.
  • Massachusetts-Rhode Island Chapter of Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA): HFMA is a national organization that seeks to provide support to healthcare financial management professionals, as well as healthcare institutions and other related patient care facilities. Members of the Massachusetts-Rhode Island Chapter have access to educational programs, expert faculty, a comprehensive newsletter, professional development, and opportunities to network with other professionals in the field.

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