Healthcare Administration

Into Germs and Politics? There’s a Career for That.

Into Germs and Politics? There’s a Career for That.
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Katherine Gustafson profile
Katherine Gustafson April 30, 2019

You’ll play a part in preserving the health of millions of Americans. No big deal, right?

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Healthcare organizations are going through rapid change, with acquisition and consolidation making waves in the industry and technological advances revolutionizing the delivery of care. The healthcare and social assistance sector is a major force in American economic life, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting this field to account for one-third of all new jobs created by 2026.

If you have goals to be a public health leader, you’ll need a thorough understanding of policy in order to work confidently in this changing landscape. A master of science in health policy and management program will deliver on those skills, and help you tackle an array of high-level challenges in healthcare systems.

Usually housed within a university’s school of public health, this interdisciplinary degree mixes education in public policy, politics, economics, and healthcare delivery. Courses cover topics like biostatistics, epidemiology, economic analysis, quality of care, access to care, health decision sciences, healthcare administration, public health policy, and political policy.

If completing a research-based capstone project is as important to you as gaining hands-on experience in public health, an MS in health policy and management program may be the right choice for you. But that’s not the only reason to go for your degree—here are seven more.

1. You’ll have a political edge.
MS in health policy and management degrees are usually offered by schools of public health and their core requirements reflect that positioning. With every epidemiology and biostatistics course you take, there’ll be learning in politics and management too.

It’s all to help you have a solid grounding in public health, and later, be able to approach the job market with the skills and perspectives necessary to address the political realities of the U.S. healthcare system—and have a positive influence on the plans put forward by lawmakers.

2. Leadership positions could be yours.
By providing instruction on both policy and management, this degree prepares students to understand the bigger picture of health system operations as well as complex details about how medical institutions are run. It’s a perspective that will help you become a leader in the field, either in a higher-level policymaking role or in a management position at a hospital, healthcare company, or other institution. With the skills earned in this graduate program, you can also work as a consultant, liaising between policymakers and managers to lead them in cooperation and compromise towards long-term care solutions.

3. Did we mention job security?
The demand for medical and health services managers is likely to increase 20 percent through 2026. Since an MS in Health Policy and Management marries training in public health, health policy, and healthcare management, people with this degree are widely employable in a range of jobs in hospitals, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or as consultants for medical companies. You can become anything from a leader of a major healthcare organization to an advisor for a medical device manufacturer, to an orchestrator of performance improvement initiatives for a government agency.

4. You can do good and live comfortably.
Because there are so many different types of jobs that those with this degree can pursue, earning potential is high. A hospital administrator, for example, makes an average of $89,000, with the potential to earn $170,000 or more. Even those who are not in leadership roles can find solid earnings. For instance, the average salary for a health policy analyst is $60,000, with a range from $44,000 to $80,000. On top of earning a strong salary, you will be able to use your knowledge and talents in the service of public health promotion. Whether that’s writing policy to govern data sharing, pursuing performance improvement initiatives, or shaping programs that expand care, you’ll know that your professional work is contributing to the population’s health and well-being.

5. When we say “exciting and innovative,” we mean it.
Big changes are coming to healthcare—the field is ripe for disruption, but the process is only just beginning. Today’s policymakers will work in a fast-transforming environment where technological developments outpace public policy. Today’s managers will need to implement new technologies to improve efficiency and outcomes. Those working in either role will be on the frontlines of innovation in a rapidly evolving landscape. The fastest-growing source of profits in the healthcare industry over the past five years has been services and technology. These forces are changing how healthcare is delivered, and with the training provided by an MS in Health Policy and Management, you’ll be able to influence how this transformation happens.

6. That PhD is closer than you think.
After completing your master’s program in health policy and management, you may want to take your graduate studies further with a PhD. An MS will prepare you to perform doctoral-level research, and who knows? You may even draw from your master’s thesis to do so. You’ll be able to claim plenty of experience with key concepts in health care administration and policy, and a master’s may give you new ideas about where to focus your doctoral dissertation if you choose to return to school.

7. You can make moves into a role in policy or management.
If you already work in a healthcare field, the skills you’ll an MS in Health Policy and Management will help you transition out of clinical care and into policy-oriented or managerial roles. Plus, your technical healthcare knowledge can position you to understand the details of how policy affects institutions or to develop a knack for managing improvements and reforms in healthcare settings.

An MS in Health Policy and Management degree is a great choice for those who want to study the impact of political realities on public health and healthcare management. The degree will give you wide leeway in terms of the healthcare careers you can pursue, from managing a hospital to creating government policy, to advising companies. No matter what you do, you’ll be part of a field defined by rapid growth and exciting transformation. So, are you ready to make an impact?

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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