Online degree programs that will prepare students for careers as administrators of assisted living facilities are available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. These programs include courses in general business administration as well as topics unique to running a long-term care facility, such as legal issues and evaluating the quality of a healthcare program. Some degree programs require an internship.
There are several fields of study that can prepare students for a career as an assisted living administrator. Health administration is an obvious choice for a major, but programs in business administration, public health or health services may also be good preparation for working as an administrator at an assisted living facility.
Majors with assisted living administration courses include health administration, business administration, public health, and health services. These programs are completed in a hybrid format.
Bachelor of Science in Health Administration
In undergraduate health administration degree programs, students learn general management techniques and how to administer the business and logistical aspects long-term care. These programs typically result in Bachelor of Science degrees in either long-term care or health administration. Students learn about various facets of health and long-term care settings, from business principles to diversity and ethics.
Information and Requirements
Though it may take some students the standard four years to complete the required credit hours for these degrees, some may finish in as little as 18 months. Communication with professors and other students is accomplished through electronic means. This includes using a content management system, like Blackboard, and e-mail. Blackboard and other online content management software are also used to deliver coursework. Depending on the student's intended location for work, hands-on experience may be earned through an internship, but may not be required.
List of Undergraduate Health Administration Courses
Health administration coursework in these programs can be tailored to suit the student's interest in nursing facility administration. These programs also usually require general education courses in mathematics, English and sciences in addition to major-specific classes, like the following:
Diversity in Healthcare
Racial, religious and socioeconomic diversity are the areas of focus in these courses. Students analyze case studies to gain understanding of how issues of race, ethnicity, religion or economic background can affect the standard of care in long-term care or nursing home facilities. Online class discussions allow students to deepen their understanding of these topics.
Legal Issues in Long Term Care
Regulations of long-term care, including those imposed by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, are the focus of this course. This course introduces the impacts of state and local regulations on standards of care. Students must gain familiarity with state and local rules and regulations.
Health Care Program Evaluation
After completing this course, students will have the tools to evaluate the quality of health care programs. From planning to evaluation, individuals learn skills needed to administer community health programs. Students will learn to design programs, determine appropriate methods to educate community members and combat resistance from groups.
Master of Health Administration
A Master of Health Administration degree prepares graduates for managerial employment in long-term care or assisted living facilities. In these programs, students learn about leadership, ethics and professional standards. They also learn about personnel management and facility management. States may require licensure of assisted living administrators, and the master's degree program may help students with this process.
Information and Requirements
A Master of Health Administration degree requires completion of about 42-45 credit hours and may take 2-3 years to complete. Many of these courses are available online. Most programs include a capstone project, and an internship may also be required. The internship cannot be competed online. Students may be required to attend classes on campus several times a year, and may be required to complete an orientation, either online or on campus. It may also be necessary for students to travel for proctored examinations.
List of Graduate Health Management Courses
Finance, program evaluation and personnel management are part an assisted living manager's job, and these topics are usually covered in these programs. To properly prepare graduates for work in the field, many programs also include courses in standards, ethics and marketing.
Healthcare Financial Management
These courses include study of financial management concepts, from financial statements and budgeting to cost accounting and allocation. Students complete projects related to cost accounting to demonstrate their knowledge. Other financial management concepts covered in these courses include the regulations and policies that affect an assisted living facility's economic bottom line.
Ethics and the Law
Students gain basic knowledge of legal issues related to assisted living facilities and health care access, in addition to professional ethics. These courses include instruction regarding professional liability, confidentiality requirements and end-of-life issues that arise in long-term care facilities.
Marketing for Healthcare Managers
In healthcare marketing courses, students learn to target marketing of healthcare services to specific audiences. Students learn about market research and health service promotion.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graduates of bachelor's degree programs may begin their careers in small hospitals or care facilities, as assistant administrators or department heads (www.bls.gov). BLS data indicates that salary potential varies depending on location and industry. For example, BLS data from 2015 indicates that a medical or health services manager in Oklahoma earned $40.86 per hour, while a manager in Maryland earned $53.57 per hour (www.bls.gov).
Graduates with master's degrees in healthcare administration may find managerial jobs in assisted living centers, hospitals and hospice care facilities. According to the BLS, 314,950 individuals were employed as in 2014. The average annual salary for health care administrators ranged from $56,230-$165,380 and up in May 2015, according to BLS data.
Certification and Licensure Information
In many states, administrators of assisted living facilities must be licensed. Licensing usually calls for holding at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, passing a state licensing exam and completing a state-approved training program.
The American College of Healthcare Administrators (ACHA) offers certification for assisted living administrators. Individuals are eligible for certification after fulfilling state requirements for licensure. There are several paths to certification eligibility, including completion of a licensure exam to completion of a bachelor or master's degree and work experience. Certified administrators must renew that certification every five years (http://achca.org).
Healthcare administration master's degrees may be earned mostly online, but usually require a hands-on internship. Most states require licensure to work as an assisted living facility administrator.