Without an internship experience, health administration professionals may lack the critical thinking skills and training to succeed in healthcare.
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Lucien Formichella
Noodle Expert Member

May 24, 2022

Healthcare internships aren't just for wide-eyed undergraduate students looking for an introduction to the "real world." They can help graduate students build their resumes and network to get better jobs during their master's program.

Completing an internship is integral to capitalizing on your healthcare administration education. Internships can introduce you to the workforce or to a new career path, build skills, offer an outlet to apply your education, provide networking opportunities, and even (sometimes) pay. Not just for wide-eyed undergraduate students looking to taste adulthood, internships also help graduate students round out their resumes with a valued experiential learning experience.

Healthcare administration internships offer an inside look at the healthcare system. One paper titled "Why a Health Administration Internship?" cautions of "a growing gap between the academy and organizations needing work-ready graduates." Without an internship experience, health administration professionals may lack the critical thinking skills and training to succeed in healthcare. Aspiring doctors and nurses gain a significant amount of educational experience in healthcare settings, even for entry-level positions. Administrative students often do not have comparable experiences built into their undergraduate coursework.

"Why a Health Administration Internship" suggests an initiative to change undergraduate administrative curricula to include internships. For the reasons cited above, many graduate schools already require them. Top programs like University of Michigan and Tulane University of Louisiana require an internship or residency to graduate.

These programs answer the question Why are healthcare administration internships so important? This article does too. It covers:

  • Why are healthcare administration internships so important?
  • What is a healthcare administration master's?
  • What are the top schools that offer a healthcare administration master's?

Why are healthcare administration internships so important?

Healthcare administration internships offer valuable practical experience before starting a management or executive career in this fast-paced, high-stress industry. The valuable skills you learn during an internship can lead to job offers at the end of the internship.

Skills you'll learn during a health administration internship

One Zippa article called "15 Essential Health Administration Internship Skills for Your Resume and Career" breaks down common traits health administration professionals put on their resume. According to the article, administrative interns worked in many areas. Interns for public health organizations gained experience writing data-based reports and consulting for different agencies. In facility management, interns got real-world experience learning about the reimbursement process and connecting with families and faculty. Patient care is arguably the most important part of the healthcare process; interns at healthcare facilities did things like shadow professionals and attend conferences.

What follows is an overview of some top administration internships at high-profile medical centers and Fortune 500 companies for graduate students.

Hospitals

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33 percent of medical health and services managers work in hospitals at the state, local, or private level. Interning at a top hospital can dramatically improve your skill set and help you reach your career goals.

The Mayo Clinic, the nation's top hospital, offers numerous internship and fellowship opportunities. The Administrative Internship Program (AIP) allows first year graduate students "to gain in-depth project experience and contribute to our strategic priorities in a meaningful way." Interns work with mentors (often called preceptors) during a 10-to-12 week internship that assigns them to a specific unit of the hospital.

Another top healthcare organization, Cleveland Clinic, offers an administrative internship to Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Business Administration (MBA), and Master of Public Health (MPH) program students going into their second year. Students work in Cleveland or at one of the clinic's Florida locations. They learn about specialties like clinical operations, international operations, and strategy. Interns who complete the 10-to-12 week week program may apply for the clinic's Administrative Fellowship Program afterward.

Insurance companies

The insurance industry employs almost 3 million people. This huge labor market includes opportunities for healthcare administration interns. United Health Group offers a variety of internships for those looking to specialize in different aspects of corporate management. For instance, its Advanced Degrees program is open to those working on a relevant graduate degree (typically the MPH, MBA, or MHA). The company offers several tracks; you may apply for a consulting internship in Chicago or a marketing internship in Minnesota. Both programs seek interns with data-driven decision-making and problem-solving skills in their respective fields. What you'll earn depends on the internship.

Depending on your interests, you may decide to pursue the human capital or business consulting programs. Both are open to MBA students wanting to advance their leadership, analytics, and communication skills.

Anthem offers several internships, including the change management internship for graduate students. The program runs during the summer and members work full-time in different management sectors. They work with analytics, financial management, and operations teams.

Do I need an internship?

While good internships provide all the opportunities and qualities listed above, not every student needs one. Certain schools allow working health professionals to request an exemption waiver and bypass the internship requirement. You'll likely need several years of quality work experience above an internship level to qualify for this waiver.

What is a healthcare administration master's?

Graduate healthcare administration programs can include a Master's in Healthcare Administration (one specific degree) or refer to other related programs like an MBA with a healthcare administration concentration. The name of your degree matters less than what you study, which can include learning healthcare management principles through the specialization of another degree program. The proper healthcare administration education and professional development can qualify you for hospital administrator, clinical practice manager, and healthcare CEO positions.

How long does it take to earn a healthcare administration degree?

Healthcare administration degrees typically take two years of full-time study. There are accelerated and part-time options for learners seeking alternative schedules.

Admission requirements/prerequisites

A background in healthcare administration can benefit your application, even if it's not an eligibility requirement. Among applicants, common undergraduate subjects include biology, chemistry, human resources, public health, business administration, and nursing. Though you may not need a relevant background to get into a program, it can be the difference between thriving and needing to complete additional bridge coursework as a stipulation for enrollment.

You'll also submit other traditional admissions materials like your resume, transcript(s), standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay(s).

Curriculum

As in other master's degrees, a typical master's in healthcare administration syllabus is comprised of core and elective coursework. Topics you'll study include law, finance, leadership strategy, policy, health information systems, and ethics. Of course, it depends on your program. You'll probably complete an internship course also.

You'll also have the opportunity to specialize during a program in an area like human resources, gerontology, quality of care, operations and leadership, and health informatics. Specializations have required competencies and electives as well.

What are the top schools that offer a healthcare administration master's?

According to US News & World Report rankings, top 25 healthcare management schools include:

Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com