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When you think about healthcare, what image comes to mind? Most likely, it’s a person in a white coat or scrubs (or both), perhaps with a stethoscope draped around their neck. It’s natural for most people to think about healthcare systems in terms of doctors. They’re the ones who diagnose and treat what ails us.
These days, you’re also quite likely to picture nurses, who, after many years laboring in the shadow of MDs, are now receiving the credit they deserve. But let us not forget that there are other people in our health systems who contribute to their overall functioning. Orderlies? Candy stripers? Janitors? All of these people play their parts and deserve acknowledgment. And what about those people whose contribution isn’t quite as obvious, isn’t quite as visible? What about our healthcare administrators?
Truth be told, while it may rarely be in the spotlight, not only does healthcare administration play a vital part in maintaining public health, it also represents a growing (and well-paying) field within the US healthcare system. What’s more, there are plenty of entry-level healthcare administration jobs that not only have the potential to be fulfilling on their own but can also serve as stepping stones to higher-level positions.
As with any burgeoning discipline, there is considerable literature out there about health administration, which may help you get a better idea as to whether a career in healthcare management is for you. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the books—both bestsellers and lesser-known works—that are most useful for healthcare professionals. All of these are available, in either hardcover or paperback, on Amazon and at other places where quality medical books are sold.
As the title indicates, this is an introductory guide to the basics of healthcare management, tailored to be friendly to beginners but useful for anyone whose work relates to the field, from healthcare executives to health services management to those who craft policy around public health. It examines a wide variety of subjects, including strategic planning, cost control, and the utilization of informatics. Now in its fourth edition, it includes updated case studies and online supplemental material.
Another introductory text, this one seeks to educate both those at the academic level and fledgling professionals on the importance of quality management, as exemplified by conscientious assessment of such parameters as organizational behavior and patient safety. The third edition includes both updated information and new content on, among other things, value-based reimbursement models and the application of proven improvement strategies from other industries.
Now in its 12th edition (a testament to the esteem it enjoys), this book provides a wide-angle look at the entire US healthcare system. It’s good for both grads and undergrads studying to enter medicine. From policy to practice, from insurance to technology, from the federal level to the individual level, this collection offers points of view from many established healthcare figures on the fundamentals of healthcare delivery in the modern age, supplemented by visual aids and case studies.
Technology has seeped into every corner of our lives, for better or worse, and yet, oddly, it has been comparatively slow to penetrate healthcare, largely because of pushback within the industry itself. The author, an early proponent of using wireless technology in medicine, argues that consumers have the power to force change and that tech can enable a focus on individual health that will lead to more innovation and equity within healthcare.
Is it possible that our healthcare system would be better off if our doctors spent less time studying medicine? That’s not exactly what the author, a retired Army lieutenant, recommends, but he does assert that better-prepared healthcare leaders would lead to a transformation in healthcare organization management. Using lessons learned during his four decades in the military, Hertling offers instruction for MDs on how to inspire people towards better health and care.
This book seeks to explain to those in healthcare operations management what to expect from an HR department, how HR may impact their work, what the value of good human resources in healthcare is, and how to get the most out of that value. The second edition features new material that addresses issues around downsizing, decentralization, and how to cope with both existing and potential health policies that may affect your ability to bring the best new workers into your department.
This seventh edition of the book originally written by the late Louis Gapenski is considered the consummate manual on healthcare finance and how effective financial management can lead to better patient care. The new authors offer both lessons in healthcare economics and guidance for health services management about how to keep their organizations solvent to deliver the best care, bolstered throughout by case studies from real life.
A deep dive into value-based care by the two people who introduced the concept, this is a practical guide for healthcare leadership focused on getting the most healthcare bang for your buck. To put it less glibly, it’s about maximizing the value of the money spent by shifting attention from controlling costs to assuring the highest level of patient satisfaction with the healthcare experience, essentially making our healthcare system less about money and more about people.
Now in its ninth edition, this book addresses legal issues around healthcare from the perspective of practical management, using vivid real-life examples to make its points. Though centered in the law and steeped in the history of jurisprudence regarding issues of public health, the book is written to be accessible to those who have not had the benefit of any formal legal education.
Health administration undergraduates sometimes start out in admissions, marketing, risk management, managed-care analysis, or other non-clinical staff positions and work their way into higher-level administrative roles. While it’s possible to work in healthcare administration without an MHA, it can take a lot longer to climb the managerial ladder without a master’s degree. (
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2018, the median wage for health service managers was $99,730 per year, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning over $182,600 in base pay. Employment opportunities for health services managers is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2026. This growth is much faster than growth for other occupations. ( )
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Any or all of the above books can educate you in aspects of healthcare administration. But if you come to believe that this truly is the field for you, you will need seriously to consider pursuing a master’s degree in health administration from an accredited program, such as those offered at Tulane University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pittsburgh.
Below are several of the mid- to upper-level positions in healthcare administration that require a master’s, along with their median annual pay.
If you’ve ever felt you have something to offer the ongoing effort to improve our nation’s healthcare system, but don’t see yourself as a medical practitioner, a Master of Health/Health Services degree may be for you.
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