Top 6 Master’s Degrees in Healthcare

Top 6 Master’s Degrees in Healthcare

After earning your bachelor’s or entry level professional degree in the healthcare-related area of study, you might be wondering: what now? Or what if you are in your mid-career and are looking to advance your career? One option is to continue your higher education and apply for a master’s degree. One important thing to note is that, although some professions will hire those with a bachelor’s degree, many of roles today require a master’s degree. If you are looking to open the door to a wider variety of career opportunities and larger salaries, pursuing a healthcare master’s degree is the way to go. Also, it is important to note that many of these master’s degrees offer in-person and online programs, so there is an added degree of flexibility. Below is a list of the top 6 types of master’s degrees in healthcare:

1. Master’s in Health Services Administration (MSHSA)

One of the best types of master’s degrees in healthcare is the MSHSA because it is a perfect blend for someone interested in both business and healthcare.

Educational Requirements

On average, it takes around two years at an accredited university to complete this healthcare graduate program. As a full time student, you will be learning the necessary skills to launch you into a senior managerial position in the healthcare industry. Students will learn how to manage the finances within a healthcare facility, how to analyze data, and how to run a facility in order to produce the most efficient results. Strong organizational skills are a must! If you are looking to get even more specific with your studies, there are specialty tracks. Just to name a few:

  • Healthcare Financing
  • Health Economics & Outcomes
  • Geriatric Care Systems

Career Paths

After the completion of this healthcare graduate program, there are many career opportunities with lucrative salaries, such as:

  • Hospital Chief Executive Officer
  • Hospital Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Clinical Director
  • Hospital Administrator

The average annual salary for those with an MSHSA is around $79,000, but this number can exceed well above the six-figure range, depending on the job title and the number of years of experience you have and if you have a healthcare professional degree such as pharmacy, nursing, or medicine.

Future Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers after completing this healthcare graduate program are expected to grow at 32% between 2019 to 2029, which is much higher than the average for other occupations.

2. Master of Science: Health Education (MSHE)

With this healthcare-related master’s degree, you will be equipped to make a real difference in a person’s health. You will be able to conduct research and studies to educate others on topics regarding healthcare.

Educational Requirements

Depending on the specific college you attend, the number of years required to complete this medical master’s degree can vary. At most schools, an MSHE will take a student between two and three years to earn. These extra years of education in this healthcare graduate program will help strengthen the development of your leadership, teamwork, and communication skills so that you can be a strong pioneer in the healthcare field.

Career Paths

This particular healthcare-related master’s degree prepares you for many different job titles upon graduation. Here are just a few:

  • Diabetes Educator
  • Integrative Health Practitioner
  • Environmental Health Educator
  • Health Counselor
  • Community Health Educator

The average annual salary with an MSHE is between $63,000 and $69,000.

Future Job Outlook

Health education specialists are in luck! The BLS estimates that jobs in this career field will grow 13% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

3. Master of Health Informatics and Health Information Management (MHIHIM)

An MHIHIM is a more technology-focused degree of study. In order to provide high-quality care to patients, these healthcare professionals need to use reliable information systems to keep track of patient history, information, and billing data. An advanced professional in this master’s program will know how to ensure a seamless user-experience in healthcare settings.

Educational Requirements

This healthcare graduate program takes around two years. You’ll be trained in analyzing and protecting digital medical data in order to protect patients’ files and to provide excellent care. In addition, you will learn about computer coding, program design, and technology management.

Career Paths

For those of you geared towards computers, technology, and healthcare, this is certainly the medical master’s degree for you. Some potential career titles include:

  • Computer Program Developer
  • IT Manager
  • Business Intelligence Analyst

With an MHIHIM, the average salary is $68,000 per year, but this number can exceed well above the six-figure range, depending on the job title and the number of years of experience you have.

Future Job Outlook

Similar to the MSHSA job outlook, the BLS projects that a career in this health-related graduate degree will grow 32% between 2019 to 2029.

4. Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

A highly rewarding career in a health administration or executive position can be yours for the taking with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration! With this medical master’s degree, you will be managing an entire facility and addressing each department’s specific needs. Another thing to note is that although an MSHSA and an MHA sound very similar, they are still two separate, distinct degrees. Some MHA programs require students to complete a thesis or capstone project. However, this can depend on your specific university’s requirements.

Educational Requirements

Most individuals take around two years to complete MHA programs. You will also need to complete an internship or residency during that time. This medical master’s degree will provide you with resources on how to be an effective leader in the ever-changing healthcare industry. Some of your goals include being able to communicate with different faculty members, foster a strong and united community, and maintain smooth operations/activities within the facility.

Career Paths

After completing this healthcare graduate program, you could be working at any type of healthcare location. You could be working in clinics, on a college campus, at a physical therapy office, a laboratory, or a physician’s office, just to name a few. Some candidates for job titles and their respective salaries include:

  • Executive Director
  • Director of Operations
  • Healthcare Consultant
  • Health Services Manager
  • Hospital Administrator

The average annual salary with an MHA is $100,000.

Future Job Outlook

The BLS estimates that careers in this field will increase by 32% between 2019-2029, which is much faster than average.

5. Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)

While both MHA and MBA degree programs will prepare students for those upper-level management roles, there are some key differences. An MBA is a more general degree, while on the other hand, an MHA is a more specialized health-related graduate degree.

Educational Requirements

An MBA typically takes two years to complete. Your time spent pursuing this degree program will be focused on a curriculum regarding marketing, management, accounting, leadership, economics, IT, and finance. There are many different disciplines and areas of study, but learning about all of them will provide you with a solid foundation to be an exceptional business leader.

Career Paths

With an MBA, there are many possible career paths to choose from:

  • Marketing Manager
  • Financial Manager
  • Business Operations Manager
  • Health Center Manager
  • Logistics Manager

With an MBA the average annual salary is $88,000.

Future Job Outlook

The career outlook is looking good for those with an MBA. For example, a career as a financial manager is expected to increase at 15% between 2019-2029.

6. Master’s in Public Health (MPH)

The MPH degree provides a very hands-on learning experience. It will prepare students to educate their surrounding communities on ways to improve their health, nutrition, and safety. You could be working at a government or non-profit organization, focusing on educating others on violence prevention, infectious diseases, and illnesses in order to improve upon the community’s health and wellness.

Educational Requirements

An MPH typically takes between two to three years to complete. During this time, you will learn more about epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics, health administration, and social/behavioral sciences.

Career Paths

With an MPH, there are lots of different positions available:

  • Epidemiologist
  • Dietician, Nutritionist
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

The average annual salary with a degree in MPH is $74,000.

Future Job Outlook

The BLS estimates a 15% increase in jobs in the healthcare occupations between 2019-2029.

Selecting The Right Degree For You

It can certainly be overwhelming to pick a master’s degree, especially since there are so many to choose from. When deciding, you should consider the following criteria, and evaluate each one:

  • Identify your personal interests, goals, and aspirations
  • Look at each degree’s specialized area of focus (is it in business, technology, public health, etc?) and evaluate if it aligns with your personal interests
  • The number of years required to earn the degree
  • The earnings potential/salary
  • The future career outlook (are jobs in this field increasing or decreasing?)

2 Years, An Endless Amount of Opportunities

As you can see, there are many types of master’s degrees in healthcare, and we have barely scratched the surface. Most master’s degree programs typically take around two years to complete, and of course, it also costs money. However, after earning your undergraduate degree, if you choose to pursue a healthcare master’s degree, the opportunities increase significantly. Not only will you qualify for those higher-level management positions, but your salary will also increase. So now you must make a pivotal decision: should you limit your professional options and risk being in a stagnant job, or should you choose to further your education and pursue your professional aspirations? It seems as though the answer is quite clear.

Top 7 Best Practices in Healthcare Management

Becoming a leader in the healthcare industry takes effective communication, continued education, decision-making, workforce organization, networking, anticipating challenges, and using technology and technological advancements to your advantage. It takes truly productive and adaptable leadership if you are going to climb the ranks.   There is a direct connection between quality and quantifiable healthcare practices and effective leadership. Your approach in making an impact on your staff, individual patients, and your relationships with other healthcare professionals, is so important in leading your organization and others to success. Some examples of effective leadership would be providing opportunities and resources to improve your organization’s safety, innovation in medical research, building key relationships with other fields like those in pharmacy or a family physician, removing barriers, and you could offer leadership development seminars. What makes an effective leader in each sector of healthcare will differ based on your specialty, however, there are certain best practices in healthcare management that all great leaders exemplify. Below we will outline the top 7 traits for effective leadership in healthcare   

1. BE CURIOUS 

Just because something has always been done a certain way, it does not mean that is the most effective way to carry out a task. Be curious and try to be innovative and more efficient with your tools, your people, and their skill sets. Being inquisitive, as a leader, opens up for great participation and unique ideas from your team members that are on the frontlines of what you are trying to implement. One of the most important roles of an effective healthcare executive is the ability to ask those tough questions of all parties involved and avoid making assumptions. Asking questions can also encourage team members to participate and share ideas. 

2. DATA IS KING 

One of the most effective ways to change assumptions and measure performance is to measure and track everything. Data is your friend and one of the most cost-effective ways of growing and nurturing your team and patient care. Many healthcare organizations already qualify and quantify vast amounts of data sets. Use that information to analyze performance and measure outcomes. You may find that what you thought of as a problem is merely a symptom of a bigger issue and that improvements have to start in another area. Measuring performance also makes it possible to identify people with high performance so they can be recognized; similarly, you will be able to spot people who may be struggling so they can receive more training. 

3. SET EXPECTATIONS 

Leadership in healthcare often means being specific about their challenges, desired solutions, decision-making processes, expectations, improvements to strategies and processes, and understanding the vision of business development. Specific expectations like how much time should be set aside for patient interaction and counseling or making sure that each intake file has the required documents in it before the patient can be seen are precise, measurable actions. This makes for often seamless implementation and healthy work culture. 

4. LEAD BY EXAMPLE 

In order to be more effective, healthcare managers should always base their actions on their words. Just like in parenting, your employees and competitors are watching you and learning from you. You are the driving force for the company, providing sound direction and motivation to get the job done.   The healthcare environment itself is constantly changing and more involved than most other industries, and that fact presents a challenge for healthcare leaders today. Many organizations are expecting more to be done with technology and fewer humans and keeping up is a struggle. However, not with the right healthcare manager and employee team. More effective healthcare leadership can help any department flourish even during challenging times. 

5. DEDICATION TO SELF IMPROVEMENT 

The only constant in healthcare is change. You need to make sure that you are staying on top of the current trends and innovations in your medical fieldso, you can ensure your patients receive the best care possible or your employees understand the importance of self-improvement which impacts the patient care they provide. Leadership in healthcare means continually learning about new medical procedures and ways to improve your staff and organization’s efficiency. Effective healthcare managers work to further their education and provide opportunities for their employees to do the same. Leadership development courses, seminars, conferences, and online classes are all great opportunities for effective healthcare leaders and their staff to improve themselves. Plus, they are amazing professional networking opportunities for everyone from your nursing staff to your physicians to share information and learn from their colleagues. By establishing these different opportunities, you instill trust and loyalty is not only your employees but also your patients. Self-leadership is just as important as the leadership of others – taking this into consideration, leaders who understand this process can lead by example each and every day. 

6. BE ADAPTABLE 

As we have learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to lead has to adapt to the circumstances at hand. Even prior to the pandemic, those who have been in healthcare have to adapt to the digital age of healthcare. From charting to telehealth, you, as a healthcare leader are in an environment that is rapidly changing. You have to be able to provide sound decision-making and evolve in every scenario and recognize that there are multiple (right) ways of doing things. Patient-centered care demands adaptability. 

7. COMMUNICATE 

No matter the relationship, communication is key in order to be effective as a healthcare manager. Strong leadership in healthcare means you have to be able to communicate with a variety of personalities and in different modes of communication. For example, you need to be able to present information in a way others can grasp the informationwrite effective emails to your entire staff, donors, investors, partners..etc..While being responsive in a timely manner. As we have learned this year, we have to be able to adapt and be able to host compelling Zoom conferences or appointments with patients. You also have to communicate efficiently with your patients and their family members. Learning how to specifically communicate with each branch of healthcare will take a lot of patience and practice. 

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