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Put Your Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration to Work

Put Your Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration to Work

Peter Vogt / MonsterTRAK Career Coach

When you watch popular hospital TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” or “House,” all you ever see are the people in clinical jobs – doctors, nurses and the like. It’s as though the complex healthcare organizations these people work for run themselves.

Not true, of course. Behind the scenes, and in a variety of settings, not just hospitals, you’ll find dedicated people who don’t see patients but are nonetheless essential to the success of the organization and the healthcare field as a whole. You can become one of these professionals by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration (also known as health administration, healthcare management or health services administration, depending on the particular school and program).

Know in advance that a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration will take you only so far. “It is well-recognized that if someone wants to get into the upper levels of management in a hospital or larger organization, that person will need a master’s degree,” says Carla Wiggins, PhD, chair of the healthcare administration program at Idaho State University.

Internship Can Jump-Start Your Job Search

But a bachelor’s degree can open plenty of entry-level healthcare doors on its own, especially if it comes from a college or university program certified by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). Why? Because AUPHA-certified programs require their students to complete an extensive internship in a healthcare setting — critical experience that often leads directly to a job after graduation.

“Some non-AUPHA and AUPHA-noncertified programs…don’t require [an internship], which is a big mistake, I think,” Wiggins says.

Sharon Buchbinder, RN, PhD, coordinator of the healthcare management program at Towson University adds: “The internship enables students to get a head start on the real world.”

Who Will Hire You?

If you’re wondering what exactly you will be able to do with a bachelor’s in healthcare administration and where, it’s helpful to think of your options in terms of the four employment sectors specified by the AUPHA:

Healthcare Providers: Hospitals, group physician practices, clinics, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, mental health organizations and rehabilitation centers.

Healthcare Suppliers: Healthcare management companies, pharmaceutical firms, biotechnology companies and educational organizations.

Insurance Organizations: Health maintenance organizations, preferred-provider organizations, state-administered health insurance programs and private insurance companies that cater to the healthcare market.

Policy Organizations: State public health agencies, nonprofit organizations with health-oriented missions and the like.

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