As West Virginia’s hospitals, managed care organizations and integrated health systems expand to accommodate a growing number of residents actively seeking health services, the demand for health administrators has likewise increased, as reflected in recent statistics published by Workforce West Virginia. Even with 1,953 medical and health services administrators working in West Virginia in 2012, projections suggest that by 2022 there will be a need for at least 2,287 just to keep pace with expected demand.
According to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families (CCF), 97 percent of children in West Virginia now have health insurance coverage through Medicaid, the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program, or private insurance. West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resource cabinet secretary, Karen L. Bowling, expressing pride that nearly every child in the state has medical coverage, said that the “future of the state lies in the hands of its most precious yet vulnerable resource, the children.”
Further, since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more than 187,000 West Virginians have gotten health coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Challenges in West Virginia still exist; for example, many West Virginians still struggle with poverty, disability, and obesity. Further, the state still leads in the nation in rates of smoking, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, further contributing to the growing demand for healthcare services.
Bachelors and Masters Degrees for Health Administration Careers in West Virginia
West Virginia’s hospitals, healthcare systems, managed care organizations, and consulting firms, among many others, require leaders with advanced education. In an environment that encourages earning a graduate degree as a way to advance to executive leadership positions, new opportunities in lower-to-mid-level positions become available to bachelor’s degree holders.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration
A bachelor’s degree in health administration, although not required for admission into a master’s degree program in the field, provides students with a solid foundation of knowledge in health administration, preparing them to start a career in the field or advance on to graduate work.
Bachelor’s degrees in health administration available online to students in West Virginia are structured as:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a focus in Health Administration or Management
- Bachelor of Health Administration (BHA)
These degrees prepare students to become skilled, entry-level administrators within healthcare organizations. Most programs will accept an associate’s transfer degree to cover general undergraduate requirements.
Usually consisting of four years of full-time study and 120 semester credits, these programs consist of a comprehensive, core curriculum of study in topics such as:
- Quality assessment for patient care improvement
- Healthcare information systems management
- Human resource management
- Economics for healthcare
- Organizational change
- Strategic healthcare management and planning
Master’s Degrees in Health Administration
Master’s degrees in health administration prepare students through a competency-based curriculum designed to produce next-generation leaders in healthcare. Graduates of these programs go on to achieve mid- and senior-level positions in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, managed care organizations, and government policy organizations.
Master’s degrees in health administration require students to possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Students of these programs possess a wide range of undergraduate degrees, including finance, business management, accounting, and healthcare, among others. Some experience in a healthcare discipline such as nursing may be a stated admissions requirement for graduate schools offering executive master’s degrees in health administration.
General admission requirements for these programs typically include:
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- Minimum GRE scores
- Admission essays
- Letters of recommendation
Some programs, designed as executive programs for mid-level professionals already working in the field, require specific work experience and professional references.
The program content of a master’s degree in health administration often varies according to the school or college that houses it. For example, a master’s degree in health administration in a school of business will have different curriculum requirements than one in a school of public health. It is commonplace to find these programs structured as:
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus in Health Administration
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a focus in Health Administration
- Master of Public Health Administration
Many times, these graduate degrees are part of a dual degree, such as:
What remains rather similar from one program to the next is the core curriculum, which includes the study of:
- Management of information systems
- Organization behavior
- Healthcare marketing
- Current issues in healthcare administration
- Healthcare law and ethics
A capstone project or residency experience often rounds out these programs, thus providing students with the opportunity to focus on a healthcare topic of interest.
Jobs for West Virginia’s Health Care Administration Professionals
Job descriptions and associated job requirements provide recent graduates of health administration master’s degrees with a good idea of the type of job opportunities available in West Virginia (These examples are shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be interpreted as job offers or as a guarantee of employment.):
Patient Experience Coordinator, hospital, Huntington – Collaborates with system leaders and their teams to support the organization’s mission and partners with the leadership team to develop and ensure the effective and consistent implementation of customer service strategies across the organization; bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred
Executive Director, senior home care, Clarksburg – Provides leadership and administration, ensuring effective operations in planning and overall day-to-day operations/program development, human resources development, business development, and fiscal oversight; bachelor’s degree or higher in human services or a related field and three-plus years of progressively responsibly experience in managing systems, processes, and people required
Quality Management Director, hospital, Giles – Assures that the clinical effectiveness corporate functions are carried out on a local level and oversees the development of strategic plans for achieving those goals and objectives; bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred
Resources for Healthcare Administration Professionals in West Virginia
Graduates of health administration degrees often seek job opportunities through West Virginia’s largest hospitals and healthcare systems:
- West Virginia University Hospitals, Morgantown
- Charleston Area Medical Center, Charleston
- Beckley ARH Hospital, Beckley
- Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Beckley
- Berkeley Medical Center, Martinsburg
Professional associations often provide job seekers with information regarding health administrator job opportunities in West Virginia:
- West Virginia Health Care Association
- West Virginia Rural Health Association
- West Virginia Hospital Association
- West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association