A Healthy Patient: Employment Opportunities in Healthcare Administration
If you're looking to obtain a lucrative job in the fast-growing healthcare industry but can't spare the time or expense for medical school, a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration may be just what you need. The medical field as a whole is projected to grow by nearly 20 percent over the coming decade and create millions of new jobs across the country, the bulk of which will require this type of degree. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from your healthcare administration degree.
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Building a Healthcare Administration Degree
Healthcare administration degrees remain somewhat novel, so you're liable to find a good amount of variation between programs at different universities. Generally speaking, however, your bachelor's degree in healthcare administration will entail:
- Finance, accounting, and statistics classes to familiarize you with the financial side of the medical field.
- Healthcare ethics seminars and human resources courses, both of which will help you navigate the healthcare industry's tricky boundaries between the personal and the professional.
- Multi-disciplinary courses that emphasize the role of technology in improving the delivery of preventive care and managing illness in those who are already sick.
The tremendous variation between healthcare administration degrees is a blessing in disguise: It allows you to build your own degree. In this respect, it's not unlike the specialty tracks that medical students select after their second year of school.
Hospitals' appetites for competent clerical staff who are also well-trained in the medical arts is voracious. The back offices of large hospitals are staffed with hundreds of workers responsible for the safekeeping of mounds of patients' demographic data, billing records, and medical information, not to mention the human resources files essential to the smooth functioning of such a large organization.
You may have even more luck finding work at smaller healthcare groups like walk-in clinics and primary-care offices. These types of organizations have more difficulty recruiting healthcare administrators, but you'll find them attractive if you have a family since they can provide more flexibility in terms of hours and duties performed.
Upper-Echelon Hospital Jobs
While automation has reduced the need for certain healthcare administration positions, most hospitals value the input of a real person with an intimate knowledge of the medical profession even in matters only tangentially related to biology or pathology. In fact, most top hospital executives come from a healthcare administration background. One surefire path to success behind the scenes at a major hospital: Get your healthcare administration bachelor's and master's degrees in quick succession, then return to school at some point for an MBA to get the necessary background in finance and business strategy that anyone at the helm of a complex organization needs.
Although healthcare administrator salaries vary from hospital to hospital and region to region, they are competitive. If you have a bachelor's degree, expect to start in the $50,000 range and reach $80,000, adjusted for inflation, within ten years. Holders of master's degrees can expect a bit more.
The field of healthcare administration is broad and often ill-defined, but it is the cornerstone of a smooth-functioning industry. Depending on whether you earn a bachelor's or master's degree, you can find healthcare administration work as a hospital executive, doctor's office manager, medical billing expert or a health information manager.
Emory Ellis writes full-time for education blogs nationwide. She writes for www.gwu.edu where you can find out more about master health administration.