As you enter a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree program, you are probably excited at the opportunity to move closer to your desired career. However, you may not be completely familiar with all that you are about to learn in your program. MHA program curricula aim to provide students with the skills and education necessary to become managers and leaders in various healthcare organizations. These attributes will be developed not only through a variety of core classes, but also through elective courses, residencies, and fellowships that hone students’ skills and prepare them to launch into the workforce.
Core classes in an MHA program
Most MHA degree programs will have similar core classes. These are intended to provide the building blocks of healthcare management knowledge. These courses can be grouped into the following general categories:
- Introduction to Healthcare Administration
- Healthcare Law
- Financial Management in Healthcare
- Ethics of Healthcare
- Policy in Healthcare
- Organizational Development and Leadership
- Healthcare Technology
- Business Communications and Marketing
- Operations Management
- Strategic Planning
These are just some examples of courses you may take during your MHA degree program. They will introduce you to the current trends in the healthcare field, history of healthcare organizations, and how technology and population trends may affect the future of healthcare. In addition, courses will teach you how to elevate the organization you are working for to the next level. You will learn how to assess factors such as operations, safety metrics, and productivity. You will also learn how to identify opportunities to improve the ways in which a healthcare organization is led, how it is marketed, and how it ensures optimal care for patients.
Furthermore, core classes in your MHA program will help you understand health policy and law and will teach you to address any ethics or financial issues in your organization. Courses will prepare you to implement policies and practices in your organization that will adapt to changes in healthcare law or policy. You will also learn how to look at financial data and how to make effective decisions based on that data. One of these decisions, which you will explore at length in your core classes, is how to manage human resources. Coursework in your MHA program will teach you how to recruit staff, retain talent, assess organizational structures, encourage team building, and emerge as an effective leader.
Elective courses in an MHA program
Outside of your core classes, you will have the opportunity to take some elective courses during your MHA program. These courses will enable you to learn more about topics of interest related to specific workplace environments you may encounter upon graduation. Depending upon your interests, your elective courses may cover such areas as:
- Health Informatics
- Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness
- Hospital Organization and Management
- Medical Practice Administration
- Health Insurance and Managed Care
- Further Topics on Health Policy
Some programs may even offer an introduction to performance improvement programs. An example of such a program is the management methodology Lean Six Sigma; some Executive MHA programs may provide opportunities to become certified in such techniques near the end of your program coursework.
Residencies and internships
Towards the end of your MHA degree program, you will likely be afforded a residency or internship opportunity. These experiences will allow you to get professional work experience in the field. This will not only help you to apply the knowledge you have learned in your program, but will also help you decide which work environments are best fitting for your career goals.
If the program you are in does not provide a residency opportunity, then it may be beneficial to apply to fellowships in your field of interest. Fellowships are competitive, but if you are accepted into one, you will be able to receive mentorship and work experience in an organization that may lead to full-time work or at least provide you with experience that will aid you in your job search upon completion of the fellowship.
An MHA program not only provides foundational coursework, but also allows for elective courses that help students explore the many facets of healthcare management. These elective courses, along with residencies and/or fellowships, enable MHA students to decide which field of healthcare management is the right fit for them, and determine where they wish to work upon graduation.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (accessed September 14, 2018) “Mission, Vision & Values.” https://www.jhsph.edu/departments/health-policy-and-management/degree-programs/master-of-health-administration/mission-vision-and-values.html
Saint Joseph’s University (accessed September 14, 2018) “Online Master’s in Health Administration: Curriculum.” https://online.sju.edu/graduate/masters-health-administration/courses
University of Iowa College of Public Health (accessed September 14, 2018) “MHA Curriculum and Degree Requirements.” https://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/mha-curriculum/
Walden University (accessed September 14, 2018) “Master of Healthcare Administration (Competency-Based) Curriculum.” https://www.waldenu.edu/masters/master-of-healthcare-administration-competency-based/curriculum/general
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