What are Healthcare Services Administrators?
Healthcare services administrators strive to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in hospitals, nursing homes and medical practices. As noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they implement and oversee medical services, supervise lower-level managers and/or healthcare workers, manage finances, create work schedules and ensure all laws and regulations are being followed. For more information about the job of healthcare services administrators, see our healthcare administrator career page.
Healthcare Services Administration Program Information
Individuals interested in attending healthcare services administration schools can pursue their studies at community colleges as well as public and private universities and colleges. Depending on the program, students can choose between studying on-campus, online or through hybrid programs that combine online and in-class instruction. Healthcare services administration programs provide instruction on healthcare finances, computer applications and legal issues, as well as medical terminology and effective leadership and motivational strategies.
Healthcare Services Administration Program Types
Prospective students have several degree options, including the following healthcare services administration programs:
- Associate Degree: An associate degree typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. This program introduces students to health services administration, with instruction in medical billing and coding, management principles and medical terminology. An associate degree may help students begin their new career as soon as possible and credits earned may transfer into some four-year programs.
- Bachelor's Degree: Full-time students can often complete their bachelor's degree in as little as four years. These programs include bachelor's in health services administration or business administration with a focus on healthcare management. Students learn about accounting, finances, leadership and legal issues, helping prepare them for healthcare administration careers in hospitals, healthcare consulting firms and pharmaceutical companies.
- Master's Degree: Graduate school can be a great choice for students who want to compete for high-level healthcare management jobs. Degree options include a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA), Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA), or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on healthcare administration. These programs usually take two years of full-time study to complete and include instruction in health policy and economics, health law, ethics and health information technology.
- Doctoral Degree: To compete for the highest executive positions within healthcare administration, students can earn their Doctor of Health Administration, Ph.D. in health management, or similar credential. A doctoral degree can also qualify students for positions in research and college teaching. Programs lengths vary greatly at this level. They could take full-time students as little as three years or upwards of seven-plus years depending on the program, and whether a student has already earned a master's degree.
Healthcare Services Administration Course Descriptions
Although healthcare services administration courses can vary by program, most schools share a similar core curriculum. The following represent examples of classes that are commonly found in healthcare services administration programs:
- Healthcare Finances: Introduces students to the concepts and terminology of accounting and finances in healthcare organizations, including instruction in financial tools, income statements, balance sheets, return on investment analysis, and payments.
- Leadership and Management Principles: Students learn about effective leadership and management techniques, including motivating employees and inspiring confidence in one's leadership. Students also receive an introduction to healthcare human resources.
- Legal Issues: This course provides an overview of the laws and regulations of the healthcare industry, including federal and state laws, regulatory oversight, credentialing requirements and patient privacy and confidentiality.
- Medical Terminology: This course teaches students the language of healthcare, including the terminology for diagnosing, coding and billing.
- Healthcare Computer Applications and Information Technology: Students learn about healthcare information technology standards, healthcare software applications and how they can be used to improve healthcare and control costs.
Healthcare Services Administration Specialties
Most associate and bachelor's degree programs prepare students in all areas of healthcare services administration. However, at the graduate level, students can often specialize in areas such as:
- Community Health
- Health Services Management
- Information Security Management
- International Business
- Public Health Policy
Related Career Options
Those seeking an education in healthcare management may want to consider alternative educational routes, which could lead to similar administrative careers such as:
- Human Resources Manager: Human resources managers direct the recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training efforts in an organization. They may also deal with employee disciplinary problems, contribute to the organizational policies of a company and participate in the mediation process when disputes arise.
- Nurse Administrator: Nurse administrators supervise other nurses, helping coordinate patient care and providing other administrative contributions. Nurse administrators typically begin their careers as registered nurses and retain their nursing license.
- Social and Community Service Manager: Supervise and coordinate programs and community organizations that provide services to the public, such as homeless shelters and family counseling clinics.
Links to Sources and Associations
To learn more about healthcare services management education and careers, view the following websites:
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, http://www.aaham.org/
American College of Healthcare Administrators, http://www.achca.org/
American College of Healthcare Executives, http://www.ache.org
American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, http://www.ashhra.org/
Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals, http://www.ahcap.org/
Health Care Administrators Association, http://www.hcaa.org/
Healthcare Financial Management Association, http://www.hfma.org/
Medical and Health Services Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm