It’s no secret that rising healthcare costs place extraordinary burdens upon Americans. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, nearly one in five identify healthcare costs as the most important financial problem facing their families. No other category comes close (only about half as many named housing or education expenses).
According to the World Bank, U.S. per capita healthcare spending is the highest in the world, nearly 10 percent higher than second-place Switzerland. When U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders surveyed his Twitter followers about their most absurd medical bills, the responses included a $1,400 bandaid, a $16,000 kidney stone treatment (that didn’t include its removal), and a $35,000 bill for an ectopic pregnancy. One user reported filing for bankruptcy at age 23 after receiving a $250,000 hospital bill.
Unregulated prescription drug costs, inconsistent billing standards, and underinsurance issues pervade a byzantine American healthcare system complicated by local, state, and federal regulations. The end results are discouraging. According to an analysis of 11 high-income nations by The Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. trails far behind on measures concerning healthcare affordability, equity, administrative efficiency, and results.
How do we achieve better healthcare outcomes? Policy change can drive substantial improvements; capable, competent industry professionals can help lead the way. Well-educated healthcare leaders can find ways to reduce costs while improving service.
Healthcare administration represents the fastest-growing subfield of medicine. Demand for qualified healthcare managers is increasing every day. Expertise in healthcare management and administration can prepare business-minded healthcare professionals to address one of our nation’s most daunting challenges.
This article focuses on some of the most popular healthcare administration MBA jobs. It covers the following topics:
Those looking to upskill to become better managers typically pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA). First implemented by Harvard University Graduate School of Administration in 1908, the MBA is the original business school graduate degree. MBA programs emphasize management, leadership, and financial skills; they typically include core courses in accounting, management, business law, finance, and marketing.
MBA programs provide a holistic view of business while developing students’ soft skills and leadership knowledge. They also offer great networking opportunities and the potential for more lucrative career prospects.
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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Many MBA programs offer opportunities to specialize in one or more disciplines. The most popular include finance, international business, marketing, analytics, and consulting. Healthcare administration is growing in popularity as the demand for MBA-trained healthcare professionals increases.
Some healthcare administration MBA programs begin with a core curriculum and add in healthcare-specific electives; others teach the core from a healthcare perspective. MBA programs require 30 to 50 credit hours over 18 months to three years. Topics of study may include artificial intelligence, healthcare finance, digital innovation in healthcare, healthcare regulation, and entrepreneurship. Earning an MBA with a healthcare administration specialization can broaden your skill set and equip you with the necessary tools to improve processes and practices in the healthcare field.
Admission to any healthcare administration MBA program requires a bachelor’s degree. In addition, you’ll need to submit official transcripts from all previous institutions. Applicants with international degrees must have their academic records evaluated by a member agency of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).
Most business schools also require applicants to prove their competency through a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Be sure to check the deadlines for submitting test scores. Programs may also require an essay discussing your goals and objectives for pursuing admission, letters of recommendation, and/or a professional resume.
Online healthcare administration MBAs offer an excellent option for those seeking flexibility. Case Western Reserve University’s 48-credit hour Online MBA in Healthcare Management offers a unique curriculum pairing traditional MBA coursework with a healthcare core. Students study organizational behavior, managerial decision-making, operations management, healthcare finance, regulatory issues in medical management, risk management, and health economics. The healthcare core of the curriculum comprises 40 percent of the total course load.
The sprawling healthcare industry provides ample opportunity to shine as a practitioner, manager, or leader. Leadership roles abound in healthcare facilities such as clinics, surgical centers, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical networks, medical device manufacturers, nonprofits, and insurance agencies.
You can put your management skills to the test in the following positions:
You may also pursue a senior management role, such as:
Education level is one of many factors influencing your healthcare management salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that healthcare managers earn more in some settings than in others. A healthcare manager based in New York, New Jersey, Washington, or Massachusetts can expect to earn more than $135,000 annually. Those in Arkansas and Montana typically earn less than $100,000 per year.
Two years of MBA tuition can set you back anywhere from $20,000 to nearly $200,000, making it difficult to calculate a single return on investment for the degree. More-expensive degrees typically return higher salary boosts; a Stanford Graduate School of Management graduate can expect to earn more than $100,000 more per year than the average MBA graduate. A pay increase like that can wipe out the extra expense of attending Stanford pretty quickly.
According to MBA.com, starting salaries for MBAs exceed starting salaries for those with bachelor’s degrees by 22 to 40 percent. Pro rate that over a career, and you should see a substantial return on your MBA tuition. And that’s before you consider the opportunities open to MBAs but not to those with a bachelor’s. If you’re angling for top management or executive position, an MBA or similar degree (such as a Master of Healthcare Administration) will be required by many employers.
For most people, a healthcare administration MBA delivers a solid return on investment. It boosts salary and the prospects for higher-responsibility roles that pay more in a growing field. With an aging population taking more workers out of the labor force and increasing demand for senior healthcare services, demand for healthcare administration professionals seems likely to grow steadily in the years to come.
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