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What is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare systems and hospitals must be managed effectively in order to ensure quality care for patients. The purpose of these hospitals and clinics is to provide patients with quality healthcare while handling the financial issues involved in the business.

The role of healthcare administrator may be filled by one or more people. There are sometimes members of the team who are not only knowledgeable in their fields of specialization, but they also have an understanding of how companies operate.

The function of Healthcare Administration is to assure that the company has all the resources necessary to run smoothly and efficiently. Administrators of health care facilities manage budgets, develop policies and procedures, and market their practices in addition to managing risks.

While specific tasks vary, health administrators usually plan, direct, and coordinate the services provided by one or more healthcare facilities. Their job is multifaceted and generally demanding. As compensation, however, medical and health service managers are often paid quite well.

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Healthcare Administration Education in South Carolina

Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)

According to information based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration and organized by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, just over 65 percent of health administration employers require candidates to have an undergraduate degree. While there are some entry-level positions available for individuals with an associate’s degree, most facilities won’t hire a professional without a bachelor’s degree in health administration, business administration, public health, or a related field.

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There are a number of colleges and universities that offer undergraduate programs for individuals interested in becoming a medical and health service manager.

Each of the following institutions provides at least one applicable degree:

  • University of South Carolina
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • Clemson University
  • College of Charleston
  • East Coast Polytechnic Institute

Undergraduate Coursework

Undergraduate programs usually consist of 120 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students are generally capable of completing requirements within four years, although this timeframe can vary. Those attending part-time or who wish to complete multiple degree/minor programs may need additional time, while those with high school college credits or an associate degree may have some courses waived.

Course titles will differ between institutes, but common topics include:

  • Accounting
  • Introduction to Business
  • Organizational Leadership and Management
  • Business Process Improvement
  • Introduction of Public Health
  • Healthcare Marketing
  • Healthcare Administration and Regulation
  • Legal Aspects of Healthcare Administration
  • Healthcare Administration Ethics
  • Community Health Problems
  • Health Information Systems
  • Long-Term Care Across the Continuum
  • Healthcare Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

While most employers require, at minimum, an undergraduate degree in health administration, business administration, public health, or a related field, most prefer candidates to have a graduate-level education. In fact, almost 12 percent require that candidates have a master’s degree in order to even be considered for a position. Additionally, jobs that require graduate degrees tend to pay more and offer more opportunities for career advancement.

There are several colleges and universities that offer graduate degree programs for individuals interested in a medical and health service manager career.

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The following institutions provide at least one applicable degree:

  • University of South Carolina
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • College of Charleston
  • Clemson University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • East Coast Polytechnic Institute

Graduate Coursework

Graduate programs usually consist of 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework. Full-time graduate students generally complete requirements within two years, but this timeframe can vary. Those attending part-time may take longer, while those with extensive professional experience may have some courses waived.

Course titles will differ between institutes, but common topics include:

  • Organizational Behavior and Leadership
  • Healthcare Financial Decision-Making
  • Ethics and Corporate Responsibility
  • The US Healthcare System
  • Business Research and Analysis
  • Healthcare Strategy
  • Accounting for Managers
  • Managerial Economics
  • Healthcare Quality Management
  • Managerial Finance
  • Marking and Analytics

Careers and Salary Outlook

Salary and Earnings Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health administration professionals in South Carolina earned an average annual salary of $106,360 in 2020. While this actually places South Carolina among the ten lowest paying states in the field, the wage is still very competitive. The professionals in the bottom 10 percent of the state’s pay scale made $56,620 annually, but those in the top 10 percent made more than an average of $165,300 annually.

South Carolina employed 6,040 health administration professionals in 2020. The areas with the highest employment rate were Concord, Columbia, and Charleston.

Career Options

While South Carolina is unable to employ as many health administrators as high-population states like California, New York, and Texas, job prospects are still quite promising. According to data provided by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, there are currently more medical and health service manager positions available than there are candidates. Additionally, the state lists the profession as “growing” with “high demand” and only “medium supply”. In fact, there are .64 candidates available per current job posting in the field.

Information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports these numbers. Based on recent national surveys, the entire nation should expect to see a demand increase for health administration professionals. Projections indicate that employment for medical and health service managers should go up by 32 percent between the years 2020 and 2030. This rate of growth is significant and, when compared to other professions, much faster than average.

The biggest contributing factor responsible for this projected increase is the continued aging of the baby-boomer population. This very large group is getting older and, as they do, the need for quality healthcare services will rise nationwide. As a result, it’s expected that there will be a greater need for more physicians and healthcare facilities over the next decade. Correspondingly, more health administrators will be needed to manage and organize these services.

While job openings change regularly, the following sample job positions exemplify the kind of professional opportunities that might be available in South Carolina:

  • Executive Director of Home Health Operations
    Responsible for managing overall branch operations, maintaining financials, establishing quality procedures, complying with healthcare regulations, and remaining informed about industry trends. Bachelor’s degree and eight years healthcare administration experience required.
  • Director of Critical Care Services
    Responsible for managing all clinical functions, overseeing facility coordinators, coordinating patient care, and evaluating treatment quality. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing institution and Basic Life Support Certification required; Bachelor of Science in Nursing preferred.
  • Vice President of Patient Care Services

    Responsible for leading clinical services operations, overseeing quality improvement, budgeting, coordinating staff development, adhering to accreditation guidelines, and implementing patient care systems. Master’s degree and five years health administration experience required.

    *It’s important to realize that the jobs listed here are supposed to illustrate potential job prospects in the field. They are not current job postings and don’t guarantee future employment as a medical and health service manager.

Additional Helpful Resources

Prominent Employers in South Carolina

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that most health administration professionals in 2020 worked for a general medical hospital, specialty hospital, physician’s office, medical and diagnostic laboratory, residential care program, outpatient care center, or a government facility. While these weren’t necessarily the highest paying industries in the United States, they employed the majority of medical and health service managers.

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In South Carolina specifically, some of the most prominent employers include:

  • Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston
  • Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in Spartanburg
  • McLeod Health in Florence
  • Roper Hospital in Charleston
  • AnMed Health in Anderson
  • Bon Secours Saint Francis in Greenville and Charleston
  • Conway Medical Center in Conway
  • Aiken Regional Medical Center in Aiken
  • Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort
  • Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach
  • Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston
  • Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas
  • BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina

Health Administration Associations

Having access to professional resources is extremely important in the health administration field. That’s why many medical and health services managers choose to become members of both national and state associations. These organizations usually offer their members a number of benefits.

While these will vary from association to association, some common advantages include having access to:

  • A community of like-minded professionals
  • A supportive and encouraging professional atmosphere
  • Certification courses
  • Conferences
  • Continuing education
  • Helpful forums in which to ask questions and share ideas
  • Internships and career advancement opportunities
  • Mentorship programs
  • Networking opportunities
  • Recent healthcare news and policy information
  • Special events
  • Training
  • Workshops

Additionally, these organizations tend to work hard to keep professionals well-informed about the field, pertinent news, and potentially influential current events. Association members may also have the opportunity to positively impact healthcare policy and improve their state’s standards. Many new professionals find joining an association extremely helpful, as it keeps them more informed and provides access to a large number of experienced, supportive professionals who can assist with potentially complicated managerial situations.

There are a number of different professional organizations available to health administrators in South Carolina.

Some prominent options include:

  • South Carolina Medical Group Management Association (SC MGMA)
    SC MGMA focuses on providing healthcare management professionals with education, networking, and leadership building opportunities. With over 500 active members, the South Carolina chapter is one of the ten largest state affiliates of the national MGMA. Product and service providers are also encouraged to join, as are students.
  • South Carolina Health Information Management Association (SCHIMA)
    SCHIMA is the South Carolina state affiliate of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). As the world’s leading association for health information management, AHIMA has over 103,000 health information professional members and works to provide numerous education and training opportunities.
  • South Carolina Health Care Association (SCHCA)
    SCHCA is a nonprofit association that represents over 90 percent of the long-term healthcare facilities in South Carolina. It seeks to enhance and advance the profession and works toward this goal by providing members with various professional development opportunities. Member benefits include access to continuing education programs, relevant publications, conventions, showcases, discounts, endorse products, and awards.
  • South Carolina Chapter of Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA)
    HFMA is a national association that provides support to healthcare financial management professionals, healthcare institutions, and other patient care facilities. Members of the South Carolina Chapter have access to organization events, educational programs, certification courses, e-learning opportunities, and the Annual Women’s Conference.
  • South Carolina American College of Healthcare Executives (SC ACHE)
    SC ACHE is an independent chapter of the ACHE, an association dedicated to advancing their 47,603 members and the healthcare field as a whole. The SC ACHE promotes high ethical standards by providing its members with opportunities for career development, education, service, and networking opportunities.
  • South Carolina Association of Healthcare Access Management (SCAHAM)
    SCAHAM is an affiliate chapter of the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM) and strives to promote quality management of healthcare delivery systems. While their primary focus is ensuring patient access services, the organization also offers members valuable educational and career support. NAHAM also offers two credentials programs: Certified Healthcare Access Manger and Certified Healthcare Access Associate.
  • Healthcare Technology Management Association of South Carolina (HTMA-SC)
    HTMA-SC strives to be an educational platform for biomedical and imaging technician professionals. Individual, student, and corporate membership benefits include networking opportunities, a newsletter, educational program discounts, job announcements, scholarships, awards, visibility, skills development workshops, and chances to socialize with other professionals in the field.
  • South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA)
    SCHA is made up of approximately 900 individual members, as well as 100 member hospitals and health systems. The organization has a long history of serving as the voice of hospital communities within the state. Members receive significant support through the development and improvement of healthcare delivery systems, as well as educational opportunities for hospital staff.

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