Missouri’s health systems have been recognized as leaders in providing patients with a superior healthcare experience. They have accomplished this by ensuring the delivery of high-quality patient care while allocating resources to expand facilities and increase the variety of services available. This has created a growing demand for skilled administrators capable of ensuring top quality care and a greater variety of care options, even as the state’s skyrocketing patient population puts pressure on health systems to provide more preventative, outpatient and acute care services.
In 2014, five Missouri-based health systems came together to form an alliance designed to improve the health of the state’s population and reduce costs along the way. The partnership, called the Health Network of Missouri, is just one of many throughout the U.S. designed to bolster community health providers and allow them to gain financial strength and scale clinical quality, as would be common practice in larger health systems.
For healthcare administrators and managers, these changes result in stronger, more stable healthcare environments that support new job opportunities and upward mobility.
Health Administration Bachelors and Masters Degrees Available in Missouri
Today’s jobs in healthcare administration, both in Missouri and throughout the U.S., require a college degree from an accredited college or university. For entry-to-mid-level healthcare administration jobs, a bachelor’s degree is often appropriate, while senior-level positions and those within large hospitals and healthcare systems most often require a master’s degree in health administration.
Undergraduate Degrees in Health Administration
Bachelor degrees in health administration, largely structured as either Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or Bachelor of Health Administration (BHA) programs, prepare students for entry-to-mid-level management roles in healthcare organizations. These programs emphasize both the conceptual and analytical skills required to serve in an administrative role within contemporary health organizations.
The curriculum found in bachelor’s degree programs in health administration allows students to gain an in-depth understanding of the organization and structure of the U.S. healthcare sector, which is required when leading teams, building teams, and serving as part of collaborative decision-making teams.
Core coursework includes:
- Healthcare systems and transcultural healthcare
- Health policy
- Healthcare accounting and billing
- Legal and ethical principles in healthcare
- Health information technology and management
- Organizational behavior and leadership in healthcare
Graduate Degrees in Health Administration
Master’s degrees in health administration prepare students with an in-depth analysis and examination of contemporary issues and processes in healthcare delivery. The curriculum of these programs also focuses on the analytical and decision-making processes required to lead today’s healthcare systems. Core courses in these programs include study in topics like:
- Health law and ethics
- Management of healthcare organizations
- Financial management in healthcare
- Healthcare economics
- Healthcare policy
The foundation of a master’s degree program in health administration depends on the college that houses the program. Universities that offer these programs may house them in colleges of business administration, public administration, health policy, or health services administration. As such, these graduate programs can be structured as:
- Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
- Master of Public Health (MPH)
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Public Administration (MPA)
- Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA)
The structure of these programs may also differ based on student needs:
- Traditional, residential programs for those without a background in health administration
- Executive programs designed specifically for mid-level professionals in healthcare administration looking to fill advanced executive positions
Many of today’s institutions offer distance learning (online) opportunities, part-time/evening study, and opportunities to choose a specialization within the degree program.
Still others offer accelerated programs that combine both undergraduate and graduate curriculum or combine programs to offer such dual degrees as MBA/MHA and JD/MHA.
Traditional master’s degree programs in health administration require candidates to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. While some students enter these programs with undergraduate degrees in health administration, most possess undergraduate degrees in a variety of different fields, such as business management, finance, and public health. Still others come from the medical field, possessing a degree in a healthcare profession.
Other common admission requirements for health administration master’s degree programs include:
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- Minimum GRE scores
- Admission essays or statements of purpose
- Admission interviews
Health Administration Careers in Missouri
Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the United States and the world’s largest Catholic health system, has established its roots in St. Louis, where it is committed to person-centered care, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable. In FY2014 alone, Ascension provided more than $1.8 billion in care to persons living in poverty throughout the U.S.
In addition to managing Ascension’s world-renowned healthcare delivery services, Ascension’s health administrators and managers oversee a wide array of services, including physician practice management, clinical care management, and information services, among others.
Missouri’s other healthcare systems also serve as major sources of professional opportunities for healthcare administrators and managers. The following list of job descriptions is shown for illustrative purposes only, and should not be interpreted as an assurance of employment (From a survey of job boards throughout Missouri performed in November, 2015):
Director of Operations, Clinical Services, Kansas City:
- Oversees day-to-day operations of the clinical service department, including process management, business operations, and strategic development so as to enhance the growth of the organization
- Requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in production management, business administration, medical records, practice management, healthcare administration, or a related field
Corporate Director of Advanced Practice Providers, Kansas City:
- Reports to the chief nursing officer and the chief medical officer in collaboration with the medical staff leadership; provides leadership for advanced practice providers
- Requires a bachelor of science in nursing and either a master’s of science in nursing or a related healthcare field, such as healthcare administration, public administration, or business administration
Manager, Quality Management, Kansas City:
- Develops, designs, and leads large-scale quality management program work/projects encompassing performance assessment and improvement, governance systems, business process improvement, and divisional project management operational and executive dashboards
- Bachelor’s degree in nursing, healthcare administration, health information management, or other healthcare disciplines; master’s degree preferred
Director Quality Improvement, Maryland Heights:
- Manages the operations of the department of quality improvement, including orientation, staff hiring, monitoring of expenses, supervision, preparation of budgets, reporting of activities, addressing employees concerns, and achieving objectives
- Master’s degree in health administration desirable; candidates with a master’s in public health or business considered
Resources for Students and Professionals Working in Health Administration in Missouri
Jobs for professionals in healthcare administration and management in Missouri exist in many settings, such as:
- Hospital systems
- Physician practices
- Ambulatory care facilities
- Home health agencies
- Integrated delivery systems
- Managed care organizations
Missouri’s largest hospital and healthcare systems are the source of some of the most abundant job opportunities for healthcare service administrators:
- Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University, St. Louis
- Lukes Hospital, Kansas City
- Boone Hospital Center, Columbia
- Heartland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph
- Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Louis
- University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics, Columbia
- Ascension Health System, St. Louis
- BJC Healthcare, St. Louis
- Sisters of Mercy Healthcare System, Chesterfield
- SSM Health, St. Louis
Missouri is also home to a number of professional associations that support those working in health administration. Professional associations serve as valuable resources for professionals in health administration seeking to network with others in their profession:
- Missouri Hospital Association
- Missouri Association of Long-Term Care Practitioners
- Medical Group Management Association, Missouri Chapter
- Missouri Health Care Association
- Missouri Association for Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing
- Missouri Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration