Healthcare is a growing field, and there is no sign that the number of career opportunities and positions in healthcare will shrink anytime soon. Most people probably think of doctors, nurses, and similar individuals when they are thinking about the different healthcare careers available. However, many healthcare careers do not require applicants to hold a medical or nursing degree. Healthcare management is one of these fields.
Degrees in Healthcare Administration
A position in healthcare administration such as a hospital administrator or medical office manager typically requires a master’s degree. There are many different healthcare-related master’s degrees, but two of them stand out: the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Administration and the Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA). Full-time students can complete either program in two years or less.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare
The MBA in Healthcare combines the normal MBA degree with a concentration in healthcare management. Those who are most interested in the business aspects of healthcare administration should consider this degree, for topics such as finance, accounting, marketing, and so on are emphasized more in the MBA than they are in the MHA degree. Specific topics related to healthcare management are covered in electives that make up the healthcare concentration.
Master of Healthcare Administration
Actual healthcare policy is covered in more detail in the MHA degree. This master’s degree is a newer program created to meet the special needs of healthcare administrators and mangers. Students in an MHA program will study the principles of general business management, but there is a focus on applying the best of these principles to the healthcare industry. More importantly, many top-level management in healthcare organizations often hold MHA and MHSA (Master of Health Services Administration) degrees.
Faculty members that teach courses in an MHA program tend to have far more practical experience in the healthcare field than MBA faculty members. Specific mentorship and internship opportunities in healthcare administration are required in most MHA programs, giving students a great deal of practical experience before they take administrative jobs. This is valuable for the work that MHA graduates will do in improving healthcare policy, healthcare delivery, and healthcare financing. MHA graduates tend to be better equipped to deal with a full range of healthcare issues than those who graduate with an MBA in Healthcare Administration.
Choosing the Right Degree
In deciding upon the best healthcare master’s degree, potential students should focus above all on their specific interests. Those who love finance will prefer the MBA, while “policy wonks” will get more out of the MHA. Either way, the right healthcare master’s degree will prepare students for an exciting career in healthcare.
BA in Healthcare Administration
A fairly new degree for undergraduates who express interest in this discipline.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the difference between healthcare administration, healthcare management, and health services administration?
A: There is no difference. It is just a matter of nomenclature.
Q: Should I get an MBA, MHA, or MBA in Healthcare?
A: An MBA is the most generalized degree which teaches graduates accounting, marketing, leadership, and business law. Traditional MBAs will almost never teach graduates how to apply these skills to healthcare. If you have decided that you want to work in healthcare, it is best to avoid traditional MBAs because they are often criticized for being too generalized. MHA and MBA in Healthcare degrees apply and integrate business management skills to healthcare, making graduates more attractive to employers.
Q: What is the difference between an MHA degree and an MBA in Healthcare?
A: The consensus is that both of these degrees are similar, but may vary slightly on a school-by-school basis. Typically, MHA curricula will integrate healthcare content in all of their courses. Healthcare MBA students will typically take a core MBA course-load in addition to elective coursework in healthcare topics.
Roughly 75% of mid-level managers in health care have MBA degrees, whereas 75% of Top Level Executives in health care organizations have MHA degrees (the remaining 25% in each have either the other degree or a similar administrative degree i.e. MPH, MPA).