Healthcare administration can be a great career option to consider if you’re one of the many people who like the idea of working within the medical field, but would rather stay away from a position as a nurse or doctor. After all, there are many different ways that you can help people from the area of administration. Healthcare administrators have an important impact on patient care, but they don’t necessarily work directly with patients. Instead, they are more concerned with the business aspect of healthcare, and the things that happen behind the scenes.
While it is possible to begin working within the healthcare administration field with nothing more than a bachelor’s degree, those who would prefer to qualify for the top paying positions in the field and those who know the difficulty involved in finding a career today would be better served considering a master’s degree in their area. But which degree is better for you?
Though a master of public health (MPH) and a master of health administration (MHA) are two degrees that often seem to be similar in their nature – they are actually altered by a series of very important differences. While each degree focuses on healthcare and therefore may share some common courses, the curricula have distinct differences.
The Master of Health Administration Degree
An MHA degree is perhaps the most commonly considered degree for students with an interest in managing a healthcare organization. During an MHA program, you can expect to attend classes alongside other students with an interest in healthcare, and though you may have some general courses to take, most will be specific to healthcare.
Usually, it will take about two years to finish the said degree, although this will depend on whether you attend school on a part-time or fulltime basis. Compared to other degrees, such as the MPH, the MHA will often focus less on disease, and more on how healthcare services are delivered. Indeed, such a degree may share some common ground with an MBA degree, but the business focus is healthcare, instead of business in general.
Courses in an MHA Degree
Those who take an MHA degree will focus on developing business management and leadership skills that are necessary within the healthcare system from a market-based perspective. Just like the MPH, the MHA degree program can be offered on an on-campus or online basis, depending on where you attend. Some of the courses and topics include: HR management, quality management, strategic planning and marketing, hospital administration, accounting, healthcare financial management, healthcare administration leadership.
Depending on your chosen program, your MHA degree may include course content that relates to public health or public policy. Frequently, the curriculum for this particular degree will center on the business side of healthcare, as well as law, policy, medical informatics, and more. This means that the said degree, when compared to an MPH degree, will focus less on the science of health, and more on accounting, finance, and marketing.
Graduates of MHA programs often find themselves in careers as managers in healthcare institutions and hospitals. Job responsibilities for these professionals include human resource management, health policy implementation, finance, and public relations. In some circumstances, these graduates may also find that they are well equipped to apply for positions as CEOs of healthcare facilities, or other high-level management positions.
Master of Public Health Degree Options
For those who want something different to the experience offered by an MHA degree, there is the MPH option. While there may be a lot of overlap between the two degrees, the main difference is that many MPH programs are specific to administration solutions. Though you might find yourself taking a number of different administrative classes – particularly in colleges that use health administration as a track solution, your MPH degree should also include classes on biology, biostatistics, and law. Public health is also a field that is concerned more with injury and disease prevention, and the measures that need to be taken to improve the overall health of an entire population. In other words, this means that the program can be ideal for students who want to work at research centers, laboratories, government health departments, and non-profit organizations as administrators. With the public health degree, you might also end up implementing and creating policies in the healthcare field.
In many circumstances, guidance counsellors suggest that MPH degree programs are better suited to students who already have experience and education within the healthcare field. Though you can pursue this industry from a different field like psychology, business, and law, having a healthcare experience is often the best way to get prepared. These programs take around two years to complete, depending on the program that you choose to take part in, and whether you visit school on a full-time or part-time basis.
Master of Public Health Classes
In the field of public health, professionals are concerned with describing, discovering, and responding to patterns of disease, while evaluating and operating health programs at a community level. A surprisingly large number of universities have begun to offer online MPH degree options to students in the midst of their careers who want to improve their education while keeping their job.
Typical MPH curricula are based on a combination of sociology, science, and organizational topics, and the areas that you will cover in your training might include epidemiology, environmental health sciences, healthcare systems and financing, biostatistics, behavioral and social health, qualitative and quantitative research, program evaluation, ethical problems, and laws for public health.
Students will learn how to apply research methods to issues of health on a public level, and most schools for this degree will offer several different areas of concentration that students can select to enhance their studies and improve their appeal in the job market.
Those who obtain an MPH degree will find that they can apply for a wide range of different degrees and job opportunities. For example, their duties may require them to take on a number of roles, including those that involve planning and implementing new programs for health, performing extensive research, conducting crucial studies, and administrating new health services. MPH graduates can hold jobs at federal government agencies, health departments, and clinics, as well as places in the military and community based organizations.
Which Program Should You Choose
Determining whether an MPH or an MHA degree program is right for your needs will be a personal choice that ultimately depends on your career goals and interests. For instance, if you are passionate about the issues regarding public health and want to help find solutions for common problems, an MPH could offer the skills and knowledge you need. On the other hand, if you you want to start a career in management, then an MHA degree might be the more appropriate choice.