An undergraduate degree in business or health care can serve as a strong introduction to the strategic approach that frames health care administration. However, an advanced degree exposes students to topics that will prepare them for the more challenging aspects of a position in the field.
A Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree is an excellent option for individuals hoping to transition into health care leadership or management. MHA students learn modern concepts in health care administration and develop a range of health care administration skills, making them high-quality candidates in the job market.
What Do Students Study in an MHA Program?
The objective of the MHA program is to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge to navigate the business structure of health care organizations of every size. For example, MHA students study business topics, such as strategic management and financial analysis. The programs also teach them health care topics, such as health policy and ethics. With this diverse curriculum, MHA students are positioned to develop a well-balanced expertise in navigating complex health administration environments.
6 Health Care Administration Skills and Knowledge Earned by MHA Graduates
MHA programs are structured to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to be a leader in the constantly changing world of health care. The program’s courses dive deep into fundamental subjects such as leadership, ethics, health care, and management. This broad exploration allows students to refine their health care administration skills and knowledge to an elevated level, giving them the acumen to achieve success at an advanced level.
1. Health Care Administration Concepts in Practice
MHA programs teach the principles of health care administration. The MHA curriculum at Regis College, for example, also examines the concepts behind these principles — from the financial aspects of care, to the field’s emerging technologies.
The deeper exploration of the following concepts is designed to equip students to leverage their knowledge effectively throughout the workplace, an approach that can make them into confident leaders in health care.
2. Health Information Systems
Health information systems (HIS) are essential to the effective operation of health care businesses. MHA programs introduce students to the different types of information technology (IT) that are currently in use in the health care industry. One way students are taught to use these platforms is to safely store and transmit patient information. Other potential applications include enhancing clinical operations by processing patient data.
3. Public Relations and Marketing Communications
As with any business, health care organizations must maintain their public image to encourage patients to visit their facilities. While each state has different laws regarding which medical organizations are allowed to promote or advertise, all health care organizations need to make high-level decisions about their branding and social impact. An MHA program can equip future health care administrators with the communication skills to help their employers maintain a positive relationship with the public.
4. Health Care Quality Management
Quality control is essential in health care, because patient safety is a risk factor. Health care quality management (HCQM) strives to increase the overall effectiveness of health care services and improve patient satisfaction over time. To achieve this, each health care professional involved in delivering a particular service must be committed to providing high-quality work. Administrators serve as leaders in the field; therefore, they are often tasked with using patient feedback and analytics data to identify areas for improvement in the departments they manage. The quality management aspect of the MHA curriculum shows students how to find those opportunities for improvement, and teaches them how to improve employee performance.
5. Financial Analysis in Health Care Administration
Health care organizations have extremely complex financial structures due to third-party stakeholders, such as insurance companies, government programs, and other private funding sources. Health care administrators may have finance professionals on hand, but evaluating the financial reports is the duty of the administrator. The financial analysis course in the typical MHA program shows students what information is key when creating budgets or planning finances. It also shows them how to manage money and risk to make long-term financial decisions that benefit the organization over time.
6. Strategic Management of Health Care Organizations
Mid- and high-level health care administrators often make tactical decisions and plan for the future of the department they lead. Strategic management coursework shows students how they can make effective and timely decisions using a combination of available information and their own professional instinct. Another aspect of strategic management coursework is teaching students leadership skills. This entails learning how to lead and inspire employees, and how to weave short- and long-term goals together to build strong business strategies.
Earning an MHA is a great goal for anyone who has an interest in becoming a decision-maker in a health care organization. Although it may be possible to qualify for this position without a graduate degree, employers know that MHA graduates have the health care administration skills to perform at a high level and cope with even the most unexpected workplace situations. With their sharply honed skills, MHA graduates are well prepared for more competitive environments in the health care industry.
Health Care Administration Career Outcomes
Diverse career opportunities are available to those with an MHA degree. The responsibilities of these positions could range from leading a health care organization or department, to tackling day-to-day tasks such as working with the media or transferring patient data. The following are among the potential career outcomes for MHA graduates.
A chief executive officer (CEO) is a top-level position in a health care organization. CEOs work with a board of directors and other administrators to monitor the quality of patient care and the efficiency of organizational operations. They set the culture for a hospital, establish corporate goals, ensure policy compliance, and communicate with the community.
Chief Nursing Officer
A chief nursing officer (CNO) is an administrator who oversees the nursing staff at hospitals and in other health care practices. Their work includes budgeting, managing records, setting and reviewing policies for patient care, and monitoring the quality of care.
Chief Operating Officer
Chief operating officers (COOs) work with CEOs at hospitals and other health care facilities to manage day-to-day operations. They work to ensure an organization is efficient and financially solvent by creating strategic plans, and establishing procedures and protocols.
Hospital administrators, who sometimes are part of an administrative team, lead the daily operations for hospitals. Their responsibilities include budgeting, ensuring high-quality care, establishing costs for services, and setting organizational policies.
Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted living administrators lead all staff and patient care at assisted living centers. They work to make certain the facility is operating efficiently, while also providing high-quality care and adhering to long-term care policies and procedures.
Health Care Actuary
A health care actuary works for a medical organization or insurance company, analyzing medical data and trends to inform an organization’s financial and strategic plans. By aggregating data about rates and medical patterns, they help identify an organization’s risks and opportunities.
Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Director
Quality assurance directors in the pharmaceuticals area oversee staff responsible for quality assurance and control. They lead investigations into compliance issues and incidents, documentation of quality control, and oversight of outside partners.
Health Care Marketing Manager
Health care marketing managers develop and execute marketing plans, programs, and materials — including websites and other marketing content — for hospitals and other health care facilities. Their work positions the medical center favorably among patients as well as throughout the industry.
Health Information Manager
Health information managers work in information technology (IT) at hospitals and other health care facilities, and for government and research organizations. They follow the latest data collection and storage procedures to ensure patient information is organized and secure.
Hospital Media Relations Specialist
Media relations involves communication between an organization and the public. Hospital media relations specialists educate the public about a hospital’s work in an effort to bolster the facility’s image.
Health Informatics Specialist
Professionals in the role of a health informatics specialist catalog patient data and records. They manage patient information and databases, and they lead the process of transferring patient information digitally.
Benefits of Earning an MHA Degree
Along with the diverse field of jobs an MHA graduate might pursue, the degree offers other benefits related to career advancement and health care administration skill development. Following are some benefits of earning an MHA degree.
Fast-Growing Career Field
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates the job outlook for medical and health services manager careers will grow much faster than average from 2019 to 2029, with the addition of 133,200 jobs. The BLS anticipates 32% growth for jobs in this field, compared with 4% growth for jobs overall during that time period.
The MHA degree is versatile, thanks to a curriculum that balances health care and business topics. Students learn about strategic management as well as the ethics, governance, finances, and policies of health care administration.
Potential for Better Pay
According to the BLS, medical and health services manager jobs had a median annual salary of $104,280 as of May 2020. That salary is more than double the median annual salary for all jobs the BLS tracks. It also outpaces the median annual salary for other management occupations. The median annual salary for all jobs, according to the BLS, was $41,950 in May 2020. For management positions outside of medical and health services, the median annual salary was $95,180.
Move Forward with a Career in Health Care Management
If you wish to develop a broad set of skills that can qualify you for a variety of high-level health care careers, an excellent strategy is to explore the Regis College online Master of Health Administration program.
The program provides myriad opportunities for health care leaders to expand their management skills and build their expertise in health care, business, and policy. You can take advantage of these important learning opportunities while also enjoying the flexibility and convenience of online education.
Discover how the Regis College online MHA program can help you achieve your professional goals.