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What is Healthcare Administration?
Choosing a career is a daunting prospect. There are so many to choose from, but only one you can actually pursue. You want to find success, so you look for jobs and industries that show great promise. One of the hottest job markets right now is in healthcare. This sector is hiring like mad, and the good news is that you don't have to ever work as a nurse, doctor, or medical technician. There is huge growth for those in health administration.
Healthcare administration is an extremely hot and growing field. That's because the population is aging and people are generally seeing increased access to insurance. With such a high demand, the market needs more doctors and nurses. It also needs more administrators to support the corporate structures. After all, someone has to maintain schedules, balance the books, market services, and otherwise keep the industry running.
Often known as a healthcare manager, a healthcare administrator oversees the operations that take place at a healthcare facility. Despite the fact that health administrators usually aren't in contact with patients, they are responsible for developing healthcare systems that are geared towards community health. Administrators are responsible for many different tasks in healthcare facilities to ensure smooth operations.
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Healthcare Administration Education in Utah
Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
In order to create a successful career in healthcare administration, you will need to first start out with an undergraduate degree. Your four years in college will prepare you to face the challenges that you will easily tackle on a daily basis. Since the healthcare industry has been growing at such a rapid pace, academia has evolved to prepare students for not only a clinical career but now for an administrative path. Thus, the ivory tower has created specific degrees that will help the more business-minded focus their studies on the specific demands of healthcare.
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Here are the degrees you should look for when researching colleges and universities:
- Bachelor of Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration
- Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus on Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Public Health
You might find many programs that offer similar programs such as degrees in marketing, management, finance, or information technology. While those programs have a lot of relevant information to impart to young minds, they are not the optimum degrees that healthcare hiring executives are looking for.
Hiring executives will be most impressed with a degree that has been specifically tailored to their industry. When they see that your credentials reflect a focused path that has led you to their door, they will most surely be impressed. While they might also appreciate a more general degree, there will be no doubt that you are driven to thrive in the healthcare environment.
That's because you will have taken courses that include, but won't be limited to:
- Healthcare informatics
- Financial analysis for healthcare
- Human resources in healthcare
- Healthcare supply chains and operations
- Economics of healthcare
- Medical terminology
- Healthcare communications and public relations
- Public health policy
When you augment your strictly academic work with job experience and even internships, hiring managers will fall over themselves trying to hire you. In fact, it is important to investigate whether you desired program offers opportunities for internships. Ask your admissions counselor whether the program has established contacts in area hospitals and other healthcare institutions. Those contacts will be helpful and can pave the way for an excellent learning opportunity, but also a possible longer-term paid position.
In fact, it might help to attend a program in an area where you'll have access to large hospitals or university medical centers. In fact, you might prioritize your later career path and focus on your desired employer's location above and beyond the location of the school. An online college might be most helpful in this instance. These days, many traditional programs are online so you will have a wider selection to choose from than in years past.
Your college research also needs to look at bigger-picture aspects of a health administration program such as its accreditation. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency analyzes an institution of higher learning. They assess the program's curriculum, faculty, admissions, rates of attrition, and student outcomes to ascertain the overall quality of that program. You should look for colleges and universities that are regionally accredited.
When your coursework is fully accredited, it gains real value in the wider world. For example, your credits will put you in high esteem with graduate programs, and you will be able to transfer those credits to many other schools. Not every credit will transfer, but if your school is not accredited, there's a chance that none of your work will pass muster with other schools. Accreditation is not only applicable to your academic life, but employers also want to see degrees from accredited institutions.
Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
It's never too early to start thinking about graduate school. Where in the past a graduate degree was a rarity, these days they're becoming more and more common – even required in higher level positions in the healthcare field. While most programs insist that you work for a few years after your undergrad degree, you should not consider your education complete until you have a master's degree.
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Even in undergrad, cultivate a mindset that is trained on graduate school. While you don't want to make this needlessly stressful, keep your future admissions packet in mind.
That packet will include items such as:
- Minimum GPA for your ideal program – keep those grades up
- GRE scores – stay sharp on verbal and math skills, and investigate applicable specialty tests
- Letters of recommendation – cultivate contacts both in college and at work who will provide you with recommendations
- Personal essay – there's no need to start writing just yet, but make sure you always have a clear idea of what you are doing, why, and what you want to do in the future
It's generally accepted that you will start applying to graduate programs after 3-5 years of full-time work experience. This will show to admissions counselors that you are well-seasoned in the field and that you'll have loads to offer in classroom discussion, and to your fellow students, too.
Once you've wowed them with your stellar transcripts, work history, and overall excellence in the field, you'll be able to pursue a degree such as:
- Master of Healthcare Administration
- Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Master of Business Administration – Healthcare focus
- JD/MSHA – dual administration/law degree
- Master of Public Health
Much like undergrad degrees, you may be able to find an online program that will enable you to continue working while you advance your academic credentials to the next level. Some programs will insist that you not work while you study, but you're sure to find one that let you take a limited course-load so that you can complete your degree in a timely fashion.
Some courses you might take include:
- Healthcare informatics
- Marketing strategies for healthcare
- Legal issues in healthcare
- Policy issues in healthcare
- Healthcare economics
- Management in healthcare institutions
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that hiring for medical and health services managers will increase by 32 percent in the years 2020-2030. That's a gross increase of 139,600. On top of these phenomenal hiring numbers, the BLS shows that salaries for this career path are also quite attractive. In 2020, healthcare administration professionals earned a national median salary of $100,980. These workers typically had bachelor's degrees and 5 or fewer years of experience. When we look at individual states, the numbers are also quite attractive.
Utah, for instance, reports an annual mean wage for healthcare administrators of $107,660. Their highest earners in the sector pull down $183,610 per year and the lowest-earning medical managers earn $49,870. With healthy salaries like this, your career in Utah is bound to be fulfilling on many levels.
In fact, your career can take many different paths within the larger healthcare industry, and a health administration degree can prepare you for any number of things. That is, the industry doesn't only need management. It also needs people in marketing, communications, public policy, sales, and the IT department.
Here's a brief list of the many avenues you can consider under the umbrella of healthcare administration:
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- Public Relations
- Public Policy
- Information Technology
- Software Development
- Sales & Marketing
The healthcare job market is exploding in all states, including Utah. Here is a brief sampling of career positions.
Take a look and consider where you might find yourself in the healthcare universe:
- Operations Director
- Assistant Bureau Director
- Director of Billing Compliance and Privacy
- Practice Director
- Assisted Living Administrator
- Health Director
Additional Helpful Resources
Prominent Employers in Utah
Utah is full of great employers who are waiting to help you create a mutually-beneficial career track.
Here are a few of the larger healthcare facilities where you might make your mark:
- University of Utah Hospital
- Intermountain Medical Center
- Alta View Hospital
- American Fork Hospital
- Ashley Regional Medical Center
- Bear River Valley Hospital
Though Salt Lake City's healthcare administrators earn the state's highest mean wage of $113,270, the state generally supports high wages. Even in the St. George region, which is in the state's southwest corner, you'll find an annual mean wage of 84620. Given that the overall cost of living in SW Utah is rather low, a salary in the $80k range will likely support a rather satisfactory lifestyle.
Health Administration Associations
As a healthcare administration professional, you'll want to join at least one professional association. Membership in such an organization can help you find like-minded professionals. You can also take advantage of conferences, continuing education opportunities, and leadership responsibilities.
Here are a few associations that you can consider joining:
- Utah Healthcare Executives
- Medical Group Management Association of Utah
- Health Management Associates
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
Once you find the undergraduate program of your dreams, you will be on your way to a brilliant career as a healthcare administration professional. Congratulations!