For some health care professionals, the next step in their careers is advancing from having a hands-on role in day-to-day patient care tasks to being responsible for administrative duties, such as long-term financial planning, hospital and health care organization management, and health infrastructure planning. Future health care administrators will be joining an expanding field where experienced and knowledgeable professionals are in great demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry will expand by 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, and health care administrators can earn nearly six-figure salaries.
Experienced health care industry professionals who are ready to advance their careers should consider a master’s in health administration degree. Health care administrators organize, plan and coordinate medical and general services for hospitals and other health care organizations, such as group medical practices and nursing homes. Earning this advanced degree can open doors to becoming a medical records technician, director of administrative services or even operations manager for an entire facility.
Earning an online degree from the University of Cincinnati’s Master of Health Administration program indicates to future employers that graduates have the knowledge and skills that come with an education from a respected, accredited institution. Students pursuing this advanced degree complete core courses in management, finance, marketplace economics, and policy creation and management.
Health Systems Management
As the need for well-trained professionals in the health care industry continues to grow, hospitals and other organizations need administrators who understand how to methodically evaluate health care systems to analyze their performance and integrate improved patient care delivery structures. Master’s students learn the history of health care, how it is structured and organized, and how it affects governmental and private health care as a whole.
Students also learn specific administrative concepts — such as organization methods and industry-specific principles — through peer discussion groups, instructor lectures, assigned readings and written assignments. The two core courses in the Health Systems Management block — Organization & Delivery and Principles of Leadership — teach teamwork, strategic planning, decision-making and communications skills that all leaders should possess.
Health Care Finance
Health care administrators are also tasked with overseeing their organizations’ overall budgets and long-term financial plans and goals. To prepare graduates for this role, the master’s program explores how to set and carry out financial plans, describes industry-specific financing terms and concepts, and offers information about problem-solving concepts that managers and others in leadership roles must know.
In addition to understanding how health care financing works, future administrators will learn about complicated concepts, such as care delivery rules and regulations. They’ll also tackle little-known topics, such as how third-party payer systems affect a hospital’s budgetary needs and expenditures. Students learn about financial analysis and forecasting, as well as capital structure, allocation and acquisition.
Health care industry leaders have three overarching concerns to address: quality, access to care and expense. Master’s degree students gain insight into how U.S. health care systems, structures and policies affect these three issues. The core program courses cover public and private insurance, uninsured patients, mental health, long-term care, care for veterans and pharmaceuticals, among other topics. Once students understand the issues facing health care administrators, they are better prepared to create, evaluate and implement the most successful policies surrounding patient care delivery. Upon graduation, students will have covered topics such as nondiscrimination, fraud, abuse, antitrust, privacy and confidentiality.
Policy creation requires a deep understanding of the particular legal and ethical issues that arise within the health care system. Students must understand how to:
- Make ethical business decisions
- Prepare a code of ethics and determine what should be included
- Properly document issues and communicate them to the institutional review board
- Address conflicts of interests and concerns within their communities
Health Care Marketplace
Not only do health care administrators need to understand budgeting and finance, but they also need to have a solid grasp of industry economics to analyze and forecast marketplace economics. Students learn how economics affects policy-making, pricing and insurance decisions, and they explore how economic analysis can help administrators discover innovative and unique solutions to these systemic issues in their own organizations.
The program then teaches students about marketing strategies, planning and management, and governance as they relate to health care institutions. Graduates will come away with tools to help with crisis prevention and management, creating a positive workplace environment and promoting corporate transparency, as well as an understanding of how these issues can impact an organization.
In addition to completing coursework in these core areas, students will also choose an academic concentration and complete a capstone course. The culmination of the capstone course is a final research project, in which students utilize their new skills and knowledge to introduce a question or topic and research how to best solve the issue. These projects are faculty-supported, and students will present their final projects to their instructors and peers prior to graduation.
Students can earn their master’s in health administration from the University of Cincinnati in as few as two years, with a convenient and flexible schedule that allows studying at one’s convenience. Graduates learn leadership and business skills that can help them find success in their health care careers.
The online Master of Health Administration program at the University of Cincinnati strives to prepare students to pursue careers in health care management. Learn more about UC’s online MHA curriculum.