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Getting Started

Begin planning as early as possible for a career in healthcare management. A good scholastic record is important—especially since you'll want to attend a graduate program for a master’s degree or doctorate.

Bachelor’s degree: A bachelor’s degree is enough for some entry-level positions in health administration, a few senior-level positions in smaller operations, and for some middle management jobs in larger organizations. Many schools and colleges offer undergraduate degrees with a concentration in health services management. The purpose of a baccalaureate education in this area is to provide the initial education for professional careers in health services management. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration provides a list of undergraduate programs that are certified to provide undergraduate health administration education. However, an undergraduate degree in health services management is not required to become a health services manager or to enter into a health administration graduate program. Degrees in other areas, such as business, nursing, or liberal arts, may also qualify you.

Master’s degree: A master’s degree is required for almost every position in the healthcare management field. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education provides a list of accredited graduate health administration programs. In the past, most students chose the traditional route of a master’s degree in health administration or public health. Today, however, students are investigating other options, including graduate degrees in business and public administration, with course concentration in health services management. Some schools offer a joint degree—a master’s degree in both business administration and public health, or in both healthcare management and law, for example.Graduate programs generally last two years and lead to a master’s degree. They include course work in healthcare policy and law, marketing, organizational behavior, healthcare financing, human resources, and other healthcare management topics. This program may also include a supervised internship, residency, or fellowship.

Professional Association
As with any professional career, joining a professional association can help give you a head start in the field and provide you with resources to help you throughout your career. If you decide on a career in healthcare management, you may want to consider joining the American College of Healthcare Executives as a Student Associate.
ACHE is an international professional society of over 40,000 healthcare executives. By joining ACHE as a Student Associate, you will experience the excitement of discovering, exploring, and understanding the real world of healthcare management. ACHE offers:

  • Resume review services

  • An online job bank and resume-posting service

  • Continuing education programs

  • Subscriptions to ACHE’s top-notch publications, Healthcare Executive magazine and Journal of Healthcare Management, which cover current issues affecting healthcare management

  • Cutting-edge research studies

    …and more!
As a Student Associate, you are also eligible to apply for the Stuart A. Wesbury, Jr., Postgraduate Fellowship and ACHE’s Diversity Internship, two programs created for graduate students to complement their studies in healthcare management.To be eligible for Student Associate status, you must:
  • Be enrolled full-time or part-time in a four-year program in health services management or a related field that leads to a baccalaureate degree, or be enrolled as a graduate student in such a program

  • Not be employed in a full-time healthcare management position
Career Planning Checklist
Make sure healthcare management is the right career choice for you.
  • Learn more about healthcare management careers. Talk to professionals in the field, visit career planning Web sites, tour a nearby hospital or other healthcare facility, or participate in a healthcare-focused volunteer program.

  • Read about healthcare. You can find interesting articles in local newspapers, national magazines such as Newsweek and Time, and trade publications such as Healthcare Executive, Frontiers of Health Service Management, Journal of Healthcare Management, or Modern Healthcare. Visit university libraries.

  • Investigate many educational programs. Discuss your interest in a healthcare administration career with a guidance counselor and ask for help in identifying appropriate colleges. Check out both undergraduate and graduate programs as well as financing opportunities such as scholarships and financial aid. For information about financial aid call the Federal Student Financial Aid Information Center at (800) 433-3243.

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