Medical and Health Administration

Medical and health administrators manage the operations of a variety of healthcare facilities, from small physician's offices to large hospitals. Read on to learn more about the educational requirements and employment for professionals working in medical and health administration.

Is Medical and Health Administration Right for Me?

Career Overview

The healthcare industry is among the largest in the United States, and medical and health administrators are integral to the daily operations of any healthcare facility. Medical and health administrators work to improve the overall delivery of healthcare by performing a number of administrative and related tasks, such as maintaining patient records, managing an office's finances, filing insurance claims and supervising others. Skill sets associated with this field include an attention to detail and the ability to work as a member of a team.

Career Options

The majority of medical and health administration jobs are found within healthcare facilities and health services organizations, including hospitals, nursing homes, physician's offices, assisted-living facilities and clinics. For example, you could oversee the administrative activities of an entire general practice or a specific location. Additional job opportunities can be found within health insurance companies or in government, such as in state and county health departments. Specific job titles can include health services manager, medical administrator, policy analyst or project director. With advanced education and experience, you may also qualify for a position as a health system president, chief financial officer or chief nursing officer.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 23%, or much-faster-than-average, growth in jobs for medical and health services managers nationwide, including healthcare administrators, between 2012 and 2022. According to the BLS, an expanding healthcare industry will increase the need for professionals who can oversee increasingly large and complex facilities. In May 2013, the mean annual salary for medical and health services managers was $101,340, as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Medical and Health Administration?

Educational Options and Requirements

Medical and health administration degrees range from the associate's to doctoral levels. While you can earn an associate's degree in healthcare administration, a bachelor's degree in health administration or a closely related field is the usual minimum requirement for entry-level jobs. However, a master's degree in a relevant area is the standard credential in the field, according to the BLS. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education accredits professional master's degree programs in healthcare management, including the Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), Master of Public Health and Master of Public Administration (www.cahme.org).

Many of today's hospital administrators are trained specifically in business and financial management. As such, you might consider a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis on healthcare administration. Alternatively, you could pursue a joint degree that combines healthcare administration with another field, such as a joint Juris Doctor and MHA or an MHA/MBA.

Areas of Study

Major coursework found in a medical and health administration program often includes topics in human resources management, finance, accounting and organizational theory. You may also study healthcare law, health policy and marketing. Advanced master's degree programs may further incorporate studies in health forecasting and budgeting, quality and strategic management, public health and operations research. Some programs also require completion of a community service experience in a social or health organization; graduates may pursue an administrative residency or fellowship program at a healthcare facility.

Advanced coursework can also be found in a Doctor of Health Administration program where you'll study financial management and learn how to manage healthcare administration systems. Through independent research, you'll also have the opportunity to conduct a study of applied management in a real-life organization. Additional requirements include a doctoral dissertation and a comprehensive exam that will test your knowledge of specific healthcare issues.

Certification and Licensing

Through the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, you can earn the voluntary Certified Medical Manager credential. To earn this national certification, you'll need three years of experience in the healthcare field, 12 credits of related coursework and a passing score on an exam (www.pahcom.com). A state license may be required to work as an administrator for a nursing care or assisted-living facility.

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