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What is Healthcare Administration?
Spending on healthcare in the U.S. is expected to grow by over 5.4% in 2020 and continue to grow for years to come. Healthcare is an industry that is expanding quickly, and it needs new professionals to support that growth.
Health administrators may not have the prestige of doctors or nurses, but they are just as important. Organizations that provide healthcare like hospital, clinics, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitation centers must all be carefully managed. Otherwise, care would suffer along with the organization’s finances, and it would quickly have to shut the doors. It’s up to health administrators to manage things like accounting, human resources, marketing, and strategic planning. Essentially, they handle the business aspects of healthcare.
It probably comes as no surprise that demand for health administrators is rising across the country. The average growth in demand for all professionals is projected to be 7% between 2020 and 2030. For health administrators, by contrast, the growth is projected at 32%. An additional 139,600 professionals will enter the ranks, bringing the nationwide total to about 430,000.
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Healthcare Administration Education in West Virginia
Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration (BSHCA)
There are some health administration jobs open to applicants with just a high school diploma or healthcare admin associate’s degree. For most career-track jobs, however, a bachelor’s degree in health administration or a closely related field is required. Luckily, degree program options are available throughout the state and beyond.
Enrolling in a Health Administration Program
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Every college or university sets its own standards for enrollment, but most institutions require students to provide the following information when applying for bachelor’s degree program:
- Proof of a high-school diploma or GED
- High-school transcript with minimum GPA requirement
- Standardized test scores above a minimum requirement
- Personal essay or letter of recommendation.
Since this field is growing so fast, there are more health administration bachelor’s degree programs than ever before. Choosing an accredited school is essential, but aside from that students have lots of freedom over what program they pursue.
Consider which of these options makes the most sense for your learning style, budget, schedule, and location:
- In-Person Take classes on campus with a face-to-face instructor.
- OnlineTake classes online while accessing digital resources.
- HybridTake classes in a combination of online and in-person environments.
- Nights/WeekendsTake classes at times that are more convenient for working professionals.
- AcceleratedTake classes for both a bachelor’s and master’s degree as part of one program.
Choosing a Health Administration Degree Path
Health administration bachelor’s degrees go by many different names. All of them offer a general foundation in health administration, but each also has a slightly different focus.
Here are some common options to consider:
Curriculum in a Health Administration Degree
A typical bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete and requires 120 credits or around 40 completed courses.
The requirements and curriculum are different at every institution, but these are the types of courses that health administration undergraduates can expect to take:
- Introduction to Health Care Organizations
- Principles of Health Care Finance
- Medical Ethics
- Health Services Law and Legislation
- Principles of Marketing
- Health Services Planning
- Human Resources in Health Care
Some programs require students to complete an internship or practicum at an actual health administration facility. West Virginia does not require health administration professionals to have a license or specialized certificate. That means professionals with a bachelor’s in health administration or related degree have everything they need to begin a career upon graduation.
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Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
Healthcare organizations, like businesses, have executive leadership and senior-level positions. In order to reach the highest levels and command the highest salaries, health administration professionals typically need to have a graduate degree. A doctoral degree is rarely required, but most upper-level administrators have a master’s degree.
Enrolling in a Graduate Program
It may not be necessary to have a bachelor’s in health administration before starting a graduate program. Many students start with a degree in business, science, or social work.
Every school creates its own admission standards, but students should expect to meet these requirements:
- Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution
- Have an acceptable undergraduate GPA
- Have acceptable score on the GRE or GMAT exam
- Have an English Language Proficiency Test – This only applies to some international students.
Selecting a Graduate Degree
Graduate school is when students begin to focus their expertise and seek out specialized knowledge. Graduate schools offer a number of different health administration graduate degree options to suit students with diverse interests.
These are some of the most common options:
- Master of Business Administration in Health Administration
- Master of Science in Health Services Administration
- Master of Public Health
- Master of Public Administration in Health Care
- Master of Long Term Care
- Master of Health Services Administration
Completing a Health Admin Graduate Degree
A master’s degree may require as little as 30 credit hours or as many as 60. Full-time students usually earn a degree in 2 years while taking a mix of required and elective courses. An internship or independent research project is also standard.
Students can expect to take some variation of courses like these:
- Health Care Financial Management
- Health Care Economics
- Legal Issues in Health Care Management
- Integrated Health Care Delivery Systems
- Health Care Marketing
- Management of Health Care Technology and Information Systems
- Professionalism in Health Care
- Public Health
Careers and Salary Outlook
Salary and Earnings Potential
Growth is expected to be similarly strong in West Virginia. In 2020 there were about 1,840 health administration professionals in the state. In addition to being in-demand, health administrators in the state are well compensated. The mean pay in 2020 was $111,120, and earners in the top 10th percentile made $166,400.
It does not matter if you are looking to start your first career or transition into a new career. Working as a health administrator in West Virginia is an intriguing prospect. There are open opportunities, competitive compensation packages, and lots of room for growth. Whenever you’re ready to kickstart your career in health administration, use this guide to reach your goals.
Demand for health administrators is expected to be strong for years, but professionals don’t need to wait for a job to open up. Consider some sample job titles that are potential career opportunities.
Human Resources Director
Oversee all aspects of human resources. Specific responsibilities include directing the hospital’s recruitment and retention program, coordinating staff education programs, administering employee benefits, and acting as a liaison between corporate HR and hospital management. Candidates must have a BA or BS in Hospital Administration or a related degree, as well as 3-5 years of human resources management experience.
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A large university hospital is looking for a health administrator with financial expertise for budget planning, drafting, and analysis. Specific responsibilities include utilizing reports and analyzing data to support the needs of senior decision makers. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in health or business administration, as well as 2+ years of experience in financial systems and health care planning.
A network of rehabilitation facilities is looking for a health administrator to optimize staff scheduling. Core responsibilities include minimizing labor costs, ensuring adequate staff volume/orientation, and responding to staffing vacancies. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in health administration or a related field, as well as 5+ years of relevant experience.
Additional Helpful Resources
Prominent Employers in West Virginia
Health administrators can expect to find job openings throughout the state.
Start you search with one of the largest health-related employers in West Virginia:
- West Virginia University Hospital, Morgantown, WV
- MedExpress, Morgantown, WV
- Thomas Memorial Hospital, South Charleston, WV
- Princeton Community Hospital, Princeton, WV
- Cabell Huntington Hospital, Huntington, WV
- Wheeling Hospital, Wheeling, WV
- Sterling Hospital, Morgantown, WV
- Weirton Medical Center, Weirton, WV
Health Administration Associations
Professional development is how health administrators continue to learn, improve, and innovate even after they’re out of school. There are a number of professional associations in West Virginia that focus exclusively or occasionally of health administration. Participating in one or multiple ones is a great way to stay at the front of the field and advance a career upward.
Here are options to consider:
- West Virginia Public Health Association
- West Virginia Health Care Association
- West Virginia Hospital Association
- West Virginia Healthcare Human Resources Association
- West Virginia Behavioral Health Care Provider’s Association
- West Virginia Mental Health Consumers Association