The health care industry continues to evolve at an accelerated pace as providers and other ancillary organizations adopt bleeding-edge technology, clinical workflows, and administrative strategies. Consequently, many professionals in the space are looking to move into innovative leadership positions where they can leverage these creative new tools and approaches to transform the sector from the top down. How are many of these individuals making such moves mid-career? Graduate school. The number of health care master’s degrees conferred annually has increased dramatically over the past decade, the analysts at the National Center for Education Statistics found. In 2007, U.S. graduate programs conferred just over 58,000 such degrees. By 2016, the latest year for which data is available, this figure rose to more than 110,000.
There are numerous program options. However, many rising health care leaders pursue Master of Public Health degrees. Like most graduate credentials, MPH degrees can potentially heighten recipients’ salary ceilings, with some earning as much as 90 percent more than peers with only undergraduate educations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, MPH degrees can open up numerous new career opportunities. Health care professionals who have successfully completed these programs go on to assume a variety of roles. Here are three popular career outcomes among MPH degree holders:
Despite the existence of advanced medical technology and treatment regimens, communicable and noncommunicable diseases continue to kill millions worldwide, according to research from the World Health Organization. In fact, 9 of the top 10 causes of death are directly related to disease. Additionally, a number of illnesses once thought to be on the verge of eradication are returning. For example, measles has made a comeback in recent years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This requires on-the-ground action, and epidemiologists are the professionals responsible for spearheading such efforts, organizing field analysis and disease awareness and prevention programs designed to address epidemic fatalities.
Many MPH degree holders enter the field of epidemiology, leveraging their multifaceted skill sets to help patients across the globe. Most work in public health departments at federal, state, and local government agencies and colleges, according to the BLS. Job duties vary. Some epidemiologists lead analysis teams into the field to conduct research at ground zero, while others coordinate laboratory operations or direct wide-reaching community health awareness activities. The median salary for U.S.-based epidemiologists is more than $70,000, potentially making this career both fulfilling and financially rewarding.
2. Nonprofit health care coordinator
While national health care systems can effectively facilitate care for millions, disparities still exist, according to research from the Commonwealth Fund. People of color, the poor, and the elderly can be more likely to suffer from such systematic inequities. Only massive restructuring can fill these gaps and open up access to care. Unfortunately, the health care reform process is slow moving. As stakeholders debate the minutia of health care delivery and cost, tens of millions of people slip through the cracks. Nonprofit organizations are often there to catch these individuals, leveraging independent operations, funded through donations and corporate grants, to provide critical care. The World Health Organization (WHO), which was founded in 1945 and staffs more than 7,000 full-time employees, uses a network of 150 field offices to address epidemic diseases afflicting the impoverished and disenfranchised. Others, such as the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the International Diabetes Foundation, take more focused approaches, using their resources to address specific patients. In all, there are more than 130 U.S.-based health care nonprofits operating throughout the globe, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Nonprofit health care coordinators are responsible for directing the critical programs these organizations provide, using administrative and clinical experience and expertise to help individuals suffering from health care disparities get the medical attention they need. In addition to managing everyday operations, these leaders often build relationships with aligned government agencies, private companies and nonprofit partners. According to BLS, the average U.S.-based care coordinator takes home more than $94,000 per year. The pay and the exciting leadership opportunities attached to this role make it a common choice for MPH degree holders who can easily translate their graduate education into the real world.
3. Health care consultant
Both government-operated and private health care organizations in the U.S. are plagued by inefficiencies stemming from poor operational practices and lack of managerial oversight. This has multiple material impacts. Americans pay more for health care than their peers in all other developed countries, with such expenditures accounting for almost 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, analysts for the CDC discovered. These costs are directly linked to operational inefficiency at every level. Additionally, despite this massive spending, access is limited, according to the Commonwealth Foundation. The average American visits his or her doctor four times per year, while residents in other developed countries make trips to the physician’s office at three times that rate. On top of that, 29 million Americans do not have health care coverage, the U.S. Census Bureau found. This state of affairs could improve if providers were able to streamline their operations, cut costs, and funnel wasted funds into new programs.
Health care organizations looking to pursue such improvements do not normally embark on reform efforts alone — they hire consultants. These professionals leverage health care administration insights, real-world experience, and data-based decision-making workflows to propose and implement fixes that mend defective business and clinical processes. The median salary for health care consultants working in the U.S. is more than $81,000, according to the BLS. The innovative work involved with this role and the compensation make it an ideal position for MPH program graduates looking to make an impact in health care.
Carving out an exciting opportunity
Professionals looking to pursue the aforementioned career paths must pinpoint the MPH program that gives them the knowledge they need to succeed as leaders. The online MPH program at Regis College is one of those instructional tracks. Here, students can gain the skills and experience needed to make an impact in a variety of roles. The curriculum covers essential subjects such as global and public health, epidemiology, health and society, public health policy and advocacy, and public health leadership. Additionally, the program is 100 percent online, meaning aspiring health care leaders can build the knowledge they may want to move up the career ladder without sacrificing their current positions or personal obligations.
Interested in learning more about the online MPH degree program at Regis College? Connect with one of our enrollment advisors today.
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Epidemiologists Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree Average Salary by Payscale
Should I get a master’s degree? By the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Table 323.10 by the National Center for Education Statistics
Top 10 Causes of Death by the World Health Organization
Measles Cases and Outbreaks by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2015 International Profiles of Health Care Systems by the Commonwealth Fund
NGO Engagement in U.S. Global Health Efforts: U.S.-Based NGOs Receiving USG Support Through USAID by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Health Expenditures by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Medical and Health Services Managers Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective by the Commonwealth Fund
Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau
Management Analysts Occupational Outlook Handbook by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics