A Master of Business Administration in Hospital Administration or related specialization trains students in the management and business aspects of hospitals. Graduates may oversee and manage employees, patients, finances and admissions in healthcare settings.
MBA Programs in Hospital Administration
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that while a master's degree is not required to work in hospital or healthcare administration, it is generally preferred. Procuring an MBA can take 2-3 years, after completing a bachelor's degree, depending on the program selected. MBA specializations may be available as hospital administration, healthcare administration, health services, or healthcare management. Often, clinical or residential experience is part of the curriculum. Both online and on-campus programs are available. Those in hospital administration may be able to guide the focus of their MBA, but there are certain courses that are common across most programs:
Healthcare administration courses cover a broad spectrum of healthcare models. The organization, financing, management and oversight responsibilities of a hospital administrator may be included. Students can expect to learn about the policies and principles of administration specific to the healthcare industry, in addition to the roles and responsibilities that come along with the field.
Healthcare finance courses cover managerial and corporate finance as well as finance directly related to the healthcare field. Topics of analysis may include planning and budgeting, implementing knowledge of strategic financial planning, finance in public vs. private sectors, and measurement of financial risk. Some courses may focus on more specific parts of finance, such as third-party payment sources.
Legal and Ethical Issues
These courses cover the ethical responsibilities and legal issues common in the healthcare field--such as fraud, confidentiality, and patient consent. There is a focus on decision making and ethical responsibility as it relates to healthcare administration with topics possibly including employment legislation and alternative dispute resolution. Legal and ethics courses are generally intended to prepare individuals to work knowledgeably and safely in the real world.
Most MBA programs that concentrate on hospital administration require courses in economics or business economics. These courses cover economic strategies, how economics can be applied to problem solving in healthcare, and the economic principles governing the national economy and affecting the healthcare system. Specific topics include supply, demand, production, cost, and market environment as they relate to healthcare.
Courses in healthcare policy generally cover current trends and impacts shaping national and international healthcare systems from a policy perspective. Courses may focus on contemporary issues in the U.S. healthcare system, such as the Affordable Care Act, or may approach healthcare policy formation in the U.S. historically and holistically at the local, state, and federal levels. The healthcare policies in the U.S. may also be examined alongside those in other countries. Courses may analyze policy formation and stakeholder interests, and different types of policies, such as those affecting healthcare education, may be covered.
Hospital Administration Capstone or Residency
Applying acquired knowledge in practical, real-life settings is an important component of most hospital administration programs. Students may complete one or more residencies or participate in a capstone experience to gain hands-on familiarity of hospital administration in a controlled, real-world environment.
Program Admission Requirements
The admission process for MBA programs in hospital administration is generally straightforward and differs little between programs. The basic materials that need to be submitted are a resume, transcripts, proof of completion of an accredited bachelor's level program, reference letters and an admission fee. Most MBA programs require GMAT/GRE scores. Other items that may be part of the admissions process are a professional statement, a cover letter, and an interview. Applicants are generally expected to demonstrate passion for and professional interest in healthcare business and leadership.
The salary for a hospital administrator with an MBA can vary. The BLS reported a median annual wage of $100,980 for medical and health services managers as of 2019. Earners in the lowest 10th percentile brought in less than $58,820 per year, while those in the top 10th percentile made at least $189,000. Those working specifically in local, state, and private hospitals earned a median annual salary of $110,430.
PayScale.com reported a similar median salary of $86,682 a year in 2020 for hospital administrators, with a 10th-90th percentile range of $50,000 to $157,000.
There are a variety of factors that can affect income, and Payscale.com indicates that length of experience is the most influential factor. Geography also influences salary as well as the specific type of facility that one is employed in. For example, someone working in a government or hospital setting can expect to make a higher salary than a person working in a nursing home or doctor's office.
Healthcare administration is a continuously expanding field and earning an MBA may impart leadership skills and provide an employment edge. An MBA in hospital administration usually connects business subjects like economics and finance to healthcare, in addition to covering topics related to policy, law, and scope of practice.