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Have you ever considered going into a new career field? If you have ever worked in the healthcare and want to expand your options, congratulations! Healthcare administration is a growing field and promises to offer more options in the future for graduates in these types of programs.
Perhaps you have worked as a healthcare professional for a while and wish to expand your options and share your knowledge with others in the research field. If you enjoy reading about new advancements in the field of medicine, conducting surveys, and reporting results, you may love this aspect of healthcare.
Choosing the location that you wish to utilize your skills is an essential factor to consider. Many people want to work in a hospital or clinic, a doctor's office, or other community institution. But there is also a need for health administrators in universities and research institutes.
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What is Research Administration?
If you enjoy the environment of universities and research settings, you may enjoy working in the field of research and health administration. Nursing jobs and hospital administrators function more in the practical sense. But researchers are used "on the front lines" of healthcare research to focus on issues affecting the medical and healthcare industries.
It can be exciting to work on the cutting edge of new medical discoveries that can save thousands of lives and help people to improve their quality of life. Imagine working in an accredited university or research institute that is working on a cure for cancer or Alzheimer's Disease that could save someone from severe mental anguish or physical pain.
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What Do Research Institutes Do?
Research institutes and universities are on the cutting edge of research that is having a global effect on the future of medicine. They are also instrumental in measuring the effectiveness of current health care plans and deciding what works within the framework of healthcare to improve it.
If you do decide to pursue this career track, here is what you should do to get started.
What are the Education Requirements?
If you desire a career in the healthcare administration field, the first step is to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in healthcare administration from an accredited school. Since health administration is a field that is multidisciplinary, it draws from a wide variety of fields such as medicine, psychology, nursing, statistics, and more.
Once you obtain the Bachelor of Science in healthcare administration, you can enroll in graduate school and further your education with the master’s in health administration (MHA) that will allow you to apply for higher positions in the college or university environment if you wish to work in academic settings. You could also work at a research facility if you prefer to focus on research.
Bachelor’s Degree Coursework in Research Administration
The type of coursework you will take at both the bachelor's and master's degree levels will involve:
- Statistics and Research Methodology
- Healthcare administration ethics
- Legal procedures and regulations
- Psychology and sociology
- Finance and business principles
You need a diverse range of courses if you plan to work in healthcare in a university or research setting because you do not know what all you will be responsible for doing in these settings on a daily basis. However, you will always be involved in some form of academic and practical research that reveals how effective healthcare delivery systems are within communities, states, or regions to improve it. You will also be involved in some psychological or medical case studies regarding the results of specific methods and treatment plans.
What are the Job Responsibilities of Research Administrators?
Since healthcare administration in applied research is a diverse field, you will often be involved in many things. One of the duties you may be assigned is to manage groups of healthcare professionals who come from a variety of academic backgrounds.
One factor that is moving the industry into these roles and increasing the need is the innovations in healthcare technology as well as the dynamic healthcare environment.
There are always changes being made that healthcare administrators have to be aware of in the research field. You may be required to manage research projects in a variety of settings and scopes.
Some of the possible research scenarios are listed below:
- Manage research projects that focus on several geographic locations
- Focus on broad populations or small subgroups of the population.
- Work in a number of settings
- Have various purposes or goals for the research.
In addition to these factors, healthcare researchers who work in the university or research institute settings may have to engage in activities such as:
- Applying theoretical and conceptual models of research from various disciplines
- Utilizes the information and big data to the structure and quality of delivery systems in the healthcare industry
- Evaluating evidence with a critical mind and analyzing findings in case studies
- Creating innovative research questions taken from theoretical models
- Collecting data using qualitative methods, surveys, and other methods
- Using such data to assist in decision-making
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Collaboration is essential when it comes to using your knowledge of healthcare administration and research in the research role. You must continually evaluate your methods to make sure they work following the understood rules, ethics, and principles. You must assess the evidence you obtain from research methods and make sure they are sound. Then you'll be responsible for presenting such findings with others in the healthcare industry and the research community that aid in furthering the cause of discoveries that will help healthcare professionals improve their methods and techniques.
The Value of Researchers in Healthcare Fields
Most people in healthcare work in functional roles that deal directly with the public, such as administrators or nurses in a public health facility or clinic. But the work that involves making the right changes and discovering new treatments starts with research.
If you are someone who enjoys researching and can apply such research to practical settings, you may be perfect for a research job in the healthcare industry. Active researchers in this field focus on improving healthcare from the ground up. They analyze the way healthcare teams adhere to required standards and work together as a unit to deliver top-quality health care. They evaluate the conduct of members of healthcare teams to make sure they are living up to the expectations of the community and the health boards that govern them.
Additionally, they may be required to meet financial and business obligations including working with and reporting to investors in healthcare operations at various locations. The goal of the healthcare researcher is to report to the ones working in the field in the real world on how what they are doing stacks up with what is expected in the healthcare field and to offer suggestions on improvements.
You may also sometimes be required to address issues involving staff compliance and how to use research to improve the patient experience.
Healthcare Researcher Background
Researchers in the healthcare field can come from a variety of backgrounds. A bachelor's degree in a research or health field is the basic requirement. There is often a minimum GPA expected as well so that the research facility can maintain the standards of quality and ability that the research community expects.
When it comes to research positions in healthcare administration, it is not as important what the bachelor's degree is in, as long as it involves some research methods and statistics.
Some examples of suitable degrees are listed below:
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BHA)
- Bachelor of Science in Psychology (B.S.)
- Bachelor of Arts in Business (B.A.) with healthcare research electives
This will give you a starting place when thinking about the appropriate background that you need to focus on to prepare yourself for a career in research. It is encouraging to note that, even if you come from other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, or business, you can still work in research in the healthcare industry as long as you add the required health courses that you may lack.
Research is needed from a wide array of fields, and many people from diverse backgrounds have been successful in making the transition to healthcare research.
If you can obtain your master's degree following the completion of your bachelor's, it will add a deeper dimension to your knowledge base and help you to achieve your goals.
Salary Expectations in Healthcare Research Jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salaries for the research field for medical and health service managers is high. People who choose this career path usually earn an annual salary of $136,120 as of May 2014. The national average is $103,680 per year for healthcare managers.
This shows that, if you enjoy research and want to expand your options to the research field, you may be able to significantly increase your earning potential by merely focusing on research and obtaining a master's or additional bachelor's level credit in this area.
Certification or Continuing Education Needed
There is no certification required for a job in the research field of healthcare management. However, if you are already working as a registered nurse, medical doctor, or other healthcare professional's role, you may have the edge over those who are just entering the field.
Having a bachelor's degree is all that is required to work in the research field. But obtaining the master's level credentials is preferable since graduate degrees tend to be more research-based and therefore, they are more in tune with the requirements of a professional researcher's job in this industry.
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Research positions in the healthcare administration career allow you to go from a bachelor's degree to a master's degree if you choose to further your career options. Unlike more practical healthcare administration positions in hospitals or clinics, it is not necessary to gain real-world work experience after your bachelor's degree before moving on to the master's degree.
Steps to Become a Research Administrator in Healthcare
If you have decided to obtain your credentials to work in research in the healthcare industry, you can follow these steps to get started:
- Obtain a bachelor's degree in any field related to research from an accredited college or university.
- Get your master's degree following the completion of the bachelor's to open more doors to opportunity in the research field.
- Get recommendations from your professors before applying for a research position. Recommendations from college university professors often go a long way when applying for research type jobs.
- Apply at a research institute or college that you like and whose work you believe in and tell them that you would like to be a part of their research team. Additionally, you could teach for the university on a part-time basis as well so that you could empower others to do research as well.
Why Research Jobs
You may ask why you should pursue a career in healthcare administration and focus on research. One reason is that you'll be right in the middle of the major advancements in medicine in your field of expertise. You'll be able to influence the changes that are coming in the future on the front lines including both medical and technological changes.
Additionally, you'll make a significant income doing what you love and contributing in a big way to the healthcare industry.
If you think this career is for you, you may well be on your way to a lucrative and rewarding career. Check with your local community to see what the need is regarding research jobs and apply at a college or university to start your degree in healthcare administration or research today.
It may be one of the most important decisions you ever make!