What Is An MHA Degree?

Articles | Master of Health Administration |

When reviewing their options for postsecondary education, health care professionals must ask themselves, “What is an MHA degree?” In short, the answer is that a Master’s in Health Administration (MHA) program will provide graduates with detailed knowledge of health care systems, potentially making them competitive candidates for management-oriented roles in medical facilities. To fully understand the benefits of earning an MHA degree, health care providers, such as registered nurses, should educate themselves about the full range of opportunities that experienced MHA degree holders may qualify for.

What Is a Health Care Administrator?

Health care administrators are responsible for managing health services in their respective workplaces. The extent of this responsibility could be limited to coordinating medical services within a single clinical department or as broad as directing an entire facility (or multiple facilities). Therefore, health care administrator is not a single role within the field, but instead a category of occupations that work at every level of a health care organization[2].

Regardless of rank or role, each health care administrator is tasked with contributing value to their employer by improving the quality of service that the facility can offer patients. Whether they work in a research-oriented facility, government based health administration department, or in a long-term care facility, an educated health care administrator must be capable of performing several complex administrative tasks to optimize their organization’s efficiency. Some of the more common job functions granted to health care administrators are as follows[1]:

● Verifying compliance with current laws and regulations[8]
● Recruiting, training, and managing health care professionals
● Creating budgets, managing finances, and monitoring spending to ensure financial goals are met
● Developing goals for each department and tracking progress towards these objectives.
● Communicating with other health care administrators to strategize potential solutions to issues that may limit patient outcomes. [7]

American College of Health Care Executives

Like in many other occupations, active health care administrators can enroll in professional organizations that facilitate interactions amongst professionals within their field. The American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE) is one of the foremost health care leadership organizations that health administrators can join. As members of this organization, health administration graduates gain access to a variety of resources, such as opportunities to further their education and network with other health care leadership professionals. [12]

Career Opportunities for MHA Graduates

When prospective graduate students ask themselves “What is an MHA degree useful for?” they are likely quite concerned with what fields of practice they will be able to enter into. Depending on their specific interests, MHA graduates may qualify for roles within the following career paths. [7]

Health Care Providers

The most common route for health care administrators to take is leading teams of medical professionals within a health care facility. Some possible work environments are hospitals, medical clinics, outpatient centers, mental health care facilities, and nursing homes. As their experience progresses following their graduation, these professionals expand their expertise, allowing them to attain senior administrative roles like:

Health care Executives – Executives apply their knowledge of system level health care to oversee all operations within their institution, for the purpose of identifying any opportunities to make improvements. When necessary, they develop and implement new policies to enhance their facility. [6]

Health Care Policy

The government would be unable to properly regulate the health care industry and solve national health issues without the aid of experienced health care administrators. In this field of health care administration, professionals collaborate with public health agencies or nonprofit organizations to create policies that help advance health care. An example of a career in the field is:
Public Health Researcher (Epidemiologists) – This role is centered upon gathering data and conducting research to determine how current health care policies can be improved. These professionals often work with academic institutions and public health organizations, such as the Center for Disease Control, to identify concerning patterns within population health statistics. [11]

Health Care Supply

Without business professionals who understand the health care industry, medical facilities would be unable to source the essential supplies, equipment, and services that keep their operations running smoothly. With finance, technology, staffing, and training are often outsourced to third parties and health care administrators can be employed to facilitate this process. While the administrator may be an employee hired by the buyer to arrange the purchase of a product or service, they are also frequently employed by health care suppliers, such as consulting firms, pharmaceutical organizations, educational organizations, and companies that distribute health care supplies/equipment. An examples of a career in this field is:
Health Care Buyer – The buyer is responsible for administering the entire process of procuring supplies and services for a health care organization. Excelling in this career requires the administrative capacity to capitalize on advantageous buying situations by recognizing the employer’s supply needs and creating an ordering strategy that fulfills them. [10]
In the U.S. there is a growing demand for health services that parallels the expansion of the national patient population. A 20 percent growth in available health care administration jobs is expected within the next ten years, making now an appealing time to pursue a Master’s in Health Administration. With this degree, health care professionals can learn the key business techniques that will allow them to organize and manage the essential medical services that health care organizations need to successfully improve patient outcomes. [1]

Learn More

At Regis, we give you more pathways to pursue your goals in healthcare administration. As a dedicated leader of health administration education, we welcome ambition-driven, self-motivated professionals like you from all health care settings. Gain special insight into areas like management, communications, health informatics, and health policy through our Online Master of Health Administration.

Recommended Readings

Telemedicine: An Emerging Medical Advancement 4 Challenges Facing the Health Care Industry
Improving Patient Care through Clinical Integration
3 Things to Know About National Patient Safety Goals

Sources:

1. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-1
2. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-4
3. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-2
4. http://www.nursingworld.org/nursingshortage
5. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
6. http://www.ache.org/carsvcs/ycareer.cfm
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3732371/
8. https://www.princetonreview.com/careers/76/health-care-administrator
9. http://journals.lww.com/nursingmanagement/Fulltext/2011/06000/The_role_of_the_corporate_chief_nursing_officer.10.aspx
10. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/purchasing-managers-buyers-and-purchasing-agents.htm
11. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm
12. http://www.ache.org/aboutache.cfm