Getting a master’s degree in healthcare administration opens doors in so many arenas that it can be difficult to choose a career path. “Haziness is common,” councils Susan Odegaard Turner, a nurse executive, “Folks just don’t know what to do with this degree.”
One of the most common questions asked in blog message boards on healthcare careers is “What can I do with a master’s degree in healthcare admin?” Before you take this puzzling as an indication that it’s hard to find a job with such a degree, understand that the problem is actually abundance. There are so many options and different career paths possible with this degree that the overwhelming part is simply choosing. In today’s market, you might consider such a ‘problem’ a luxury. Once you’ve decided to get your master’s in health administration, begin narrowing down your prospects by determining your working values. Consider the following questions as you consider what type of health career will best suit your working values and personality:
How do you view your role in a team setting?
In health administration you’ll be working with a wide range of people from nurses to patients to therapists. If you consider yourself a people person, you’ll thrive in the health admin field. You may need to ask yourself, more specifically however; do you want to limit your team interactions? Do you prefer a small team or a large diverse team?
What is your ideal work setting?
It goes without saying, enjoying your work environment is crucial to enjoying your job. Consider the kind healthcare setting that most appeals to you. If you like hustle and bustle, consider an inner-city hospital. If you prefer a calm and controlled environment, you may opt for a small suburban office instead. It’s important to consider your work environment values.
What kind of lifestyle to desire?
Are you the kind of person who thrives on life or death situations and finds motivation in being around intense situations and problem solving? Or do you prefer to work alone or in less stressful situations that can be more easily managed. This will all play into the health admin career that works best for you. If you have a family, you may also consider the number of hours a job will requires.
Use your answers to the above questions to help sort out the specific type of job you’ll be heading toward as you finish your degree. To help you choose your career path, narrow down your options based on the Association of University Programs in Health Administration’s organization of health administration into four major sectors. If you can choose a sector, you’ll feel less overwhelmed by your options.
This is the most common sector pursued by graduates of healthcare admin programs. Thirty percent of healthcare admin jobs are provided by hospitals. Other employers include group physician practices, clinics, nursing homes, home healthcare organizations, outpatient care centers, mental health organization, and rehab centers. Job titles include vice president, director, and administrator
Healthcare suppliers provide staffing services, supplies and equipment services, and direction on training and developing employees. Employers in this group include, pharmaceutical organizations, biotech companies, educational companies, and healthcare manufacturing companies.
Health Insurance Organizations
Given United States’ ongoing difficulty with developing a low-cost form of health insurance, the health field is constantly engaged in helping to develop and problem solve on the topic of health insurance. Employment in this field includes quality improvement coordinator, client manager, utilization manager, and director of strategic planning.
Healthcare Policy Organizations
Even broader than the other three categories in health administration, healthcare policy organization work includes a wide array employers from government to nonprofit groups. You may consider working as a policy analyst, healthcare organizer, health planner, or communications director.
Once you’ve explored your health administration career options and weighed your values and you feel this is the career for you, the next step is the master’s degree. No matter what sector and what environment you choose, you’ll need an education. Research the top MHA programs to ensure your options at the end of your degree. Going back to college can feel like a big step, but if you know what kind of career you’ll have when you’re done, it’s worthwhile.
Amie Gottschalk is an avid education blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @amiegottschalk.