What Can You Do with an MHA?

Whether you’re a health policy decision-maker, a nurse in clinical practice, or a junior-level professional in hospital administration looking to take on more responsibility, earning a Master of Health Administration (MHA) can help prepare you for a managerial or directorial career track.

What Can You Do With a Master in Health Administration?

In this age of health system mergers, high-tech medical advances and ever-shifting health policy, career path options for someone with an MHA degree are varied.

Where can you work with your MHA?

Fields that might offer opportunities for someone with an MHA include:

  • Hospital administration
  • Long-term care administration
  • Health policy
  • Health information systems
  • Maternal and child care
  • Health care ethics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Veterans health administration
  • Physician recruitment
  • Infection prevention

Graduate with a Master of Health Administration, and you will acquire key management skills and knowledge specific to health-focused business settings. You will gain an understanding of the following:

  • How to improve the delivery of health care services
  • Medical informatics and decision management
  • Health care financial management
  • Quality and performance improvement tools and methods used in health care
  • The complex relationship between community, public and population health

A graduate-level program such as MHA@GW, the online Master of Health Administration from the George Washington University also provides a deep understanding of the laws and policies that regulate the health care industry.

“I am definitely seeing a lot more physicians who are interested in pursuing MHA degrees because they recognize they move into physicians’ administrator roles,” said George Washington University professor Deneen Richmond. “It supplements their way of thinking and their education so they can better relate to other C-suite administrators, and they really begin to understand the business of health care.”

Her students have included clinical nurses who want to move into management, hospital administrators seeking a better understanding of the direction of the health care industry and doctors looking to become consultants.

Where Can You Work With Your MHA?

Health care jobs are projected to grow 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 18 percent during the same time, and the BLS also indicates that the median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $99,730 in 2018.

While an MHA can help people advance in the ranks of traditional health care systems and move into C-suite roles, this degree is increasingly applicable to a range of positions, said Richmond, who holds an MHA from GW.

The skills developed during an MHA program can qualify candidates for opportunities in a wide variety of health care environments, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Private clinics
  • Large health networks
  • Government health agencies
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Large companies that require health care expertise to run employee health programs
  • Tech companies that handle electronic health and medical records
  • International aid/humanitarian groups that require expert leadership

“An MHA really helps people who want to move into leadership roles in almost any sector of health care,” Richmond said. “When I reflect on myself and my career, and … fellow students who were in the program back in the late ’80s and ’90s, compared to the students today I’m teaching, it really spans the bracket. The field is getting even broader.”

What Else Can You Do With a Degree in Health Administration?

Another career option for those pursuing an advanced degree in health care is to specialize in a particular area of medical and health services management, such as human resources, finance, medical records management or community or global health. Prospective schools may have specific courses in these areas or faculty with special expertise. Individuals can pair up with an experienced administrator in a mentor program to learn more about a certain area of management. Volunteering at an industry-related conference may shed light on a specialty of interest as well; participating in internships and immersion experiences while in a graduate program are other ways to learn more about a specific area of health care leadership.

In the ever-evolving world of health care, a health care administration degree can be applied in a myriad of fields and enhance an already successful health-related career.

“The lines are really blurring. There’s not just insurance providers and health care; we have mergers and acquisitions — like with the Aetna and CVS merger,” Richmond said. “It’s not the traditional horizontal integration anymore but lots of vertical integrations we’re seeing, and people are finding that type of graduate degree very helpful to leverage their career movement.”

Citation for this content: MHA@GW, the George Washington University online Master of Health Administration program