More than 50 years ago, community health centers pioneered methods to better address the unique healthcare needs of those living in poverty. Preventative health interventions and chronic-illness management programs helped healthcare providers engage deeply with the community, greatly improving health outcomes.
Today, the largest community health center in Central Massachusetts is the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, where chief operating officer Leah Picardi Gallivan keeps things running smoothly. It takes a lot to ensure that the center can effectively service the 28,000+ patients it treats each year: In her 33 years at the center, Gallivan has been involved with managing clinical and support departments, overseeing quality improvement, developing and integrating new programs and services, and implementing departmental policies, procedures, and information systems.
Underlying her important work are skills and knowledge she learned as a student in the Master of Science in Health Policy and Management (MSHPM) program at Harvard School of Public Health. MSHPM programs teach a mix of policy knowledge and management skills to allow graduates to tackle some of the most complex challenges in healthcare.
Gallivan has been able to apply the theoretical and practical learning from that degree to managing the center’s “medical home” model of care, a comprehensive approach that incorporates everything from primary and specialty care to dentistry to nutrition counseling.
While becoming an executive management professional is one path MS in health policy and management graduates can pursue, the degree also opens doors to a large variety of other careers in health management and policy-making.
What is an MS in Health Policy and Management degree? A Master of Science in Health Policy and Management is an interdisciplinary degree that covers topics such as public policy, political science, economics, healthcare management, and public health. Curricula are likely to include courses in biostatistics, data analytics, epidemiology, economic analysis, medical delivery and decision making, healthcare administration and management, health informatics, and public health policy. The degree can be completed in as little as nine months with accelerated programs, but typically take two years.
Who gets an MS in Health Policy and Management degree? Students with an undergraduate education in social sciences, business or management, or health and medicine are good candidates for the MSHPM. Professionals with clinical healthcare experience may pursue a master’s in health policy and management to move into the administration or policy side of healthcare.
What are the admissions requirements? Applicants to a master’s in health policy and management program are required to have a bachelor’s degree; most programs require a GRE score. Some programs require applicants to have completed college-level coursework in mathematics, statistics, and/or social science.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that there are more than 170 public health job categories, and a Master of Public Health prepares students for employment in all of them. This degree can open doors to excellent career opportunities in the private and public sectors. (
An MPH in Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Services Administration, or Health Policy and Management will provide a much more marketable set of skills and help you qualify for some of the highest-paying public health jobs. One of the best things you can do to maximize your earning potential after graduating with an MPH is to enroll in a program that has strong post-graduation job placement rates and high alumni salaries. If you don’t see either of these metrics on a school’s website, reach out to the admissions office directly to ask for more information. ( )
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Graduates enjoy a broad range of career choices. Jobs open to those holding a master’s in health policy and management include:
Those with a strong interest in the administrative and policy sides of healthcare will find the MS in Health Policy and Management degree an on-target choice. Students get training that will help them understand, manage, and improve healthcare institutions and navigate providers’ positioning in the complex healthcare regulatory environment.
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