Any decision to pursue an advanced degree will take some careful consideration. It’s essential to ensure that you choose a degree that will teach you the skills you need to get the job you want, or advance further in your current career. For people who have an interest in an occupation regarding health administration, the most closely aligned degrees to choose between are a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) and a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare (MBA). There are a few factors that need to be considered when focusing on the benefits that both options can provide, including your prior education, your career goals, and your professional experience.
MHA vs MBA
Either an MBA degree with a concentration in Healthcare or an MHA can potentially open up a new world of possibilities for your career. Students with an interest in healthcare, however, often have a tough time deciding which degree is best for their skills, interests, and occupational pathways.
While both programs cover issues of healthcare management, the difference lies in focus and approach. While the MBA is a business degree with a specialization in healthcare, the MHA is a completely immersive degree for health care management. In other words, while the MHA is specific to healthcare, the MBA has more of a business focus.
Choosing According to Career Goals
So how do you determine which path is right for you? It depends on the type of healthcare you’re interested in working in. As an MHA is focused entirely around the unique industry of healthcare administration, it prepares you to work in a clinical administration or hospital setting. On the other hand, the MBA allows you to move across numerous industries, including healthcare companies. If you’re interesting in managing the regulatory environment of healthcare, or working at the senior level of a clinic, an MHA is the best approach.
On the other hand, if you’re not interested in regulations and policy, and care more about the operation of the business, an MBA can be the best approach. From there, students can progress to become a clinic or department director, hospital administrator, and more. MBA graduates can move across organizations and industries more freely, working in medically related businesses, teaching positions, or insurance companies.
MHA students find themselves learning about all aspects of healthcare management. Usually, an average hospital has around 100 regulatory agencies to report to, so the MHA program will include coursework on health care laws and policy. Due to the regulatory nature and complexity of health care, we need to consider it from a multi-faceted approach, focusing on building skills so that students can immediately go to work with a higher understanding of everything from health-care related finances to IT and organizational structure awareness.
MHA Degrees Require More People Skills
The MHA degree also requires professionals to work more closely with people. Most industries don’t have quite as many subsectors as MHA careers, including everything from geriatrics, to pediatrics, and pregnancy. Every aspect of life comes with a sub-specialty, and each has different focal points, regulations, monitoring points, and more, which require specific people skills and empathy. The MHA prepares students for those. While an MBA may focus on goods and services, the core of an MHA is human service.
An MBA with a focus on health care management has more of a complete business focus, with less time thinking about policy and dealing with patients, and more time spent focusing on business and operations. This degree is meant for people with an aim to become leaders in the business side of health care, usually at executive levels. These individuals need to know everything from how to work with finance, to dealing with functions like accounting and so on.
MBA students aren’t as interested in policy and law as they will be in business topics, so while an MHA learns about health-care specific IT and financial operations, MBA candidates learn those topics in a broader sense.
Benefits of MHA
If your previous studies have concentrated in the area of business, then your MHA will help to focus those studies into the business of healthcare specifically. If your aim was to become a healthcare administrator, then learning the intricacies of this industry through a course of study that leads to an MHA can prepare students for the unique challenges of being a manager in the healthcare industry.
MHA Students Master Upper Level Management
When you pursue your MHA you will need to access knowledge in various disciplines. Besides basic business skills, you’ll need information on subjects like market research, accounting, and leadership. If your education up to this point has been grounded in medicine, then an MHA can put you on the right track for a number of upper level management opportunities. In fact, an MHA can leave graduates in an enviable position to take on various leadership roles.
Benefits of an MBA
For people who pursue an MBA the emphasis is often on applying practical skills in management settings. Graduates with an MBA pursue some of the best business opportunities and use their leadership skills to offer a higher standard of patient care. The main focus of an MBA in healthcare management is to prepare students for higher positions in senior healthcare, and requires a knowledge of everything from finance, to risk management, to creating workforce efficiency.
Options for Students with an MBA
Graduates who successfully complete their course of study for an MBA can pursue a degree in all healthcare sectors, private or public. These individuals will be fully prepared and qualified to work in senior homes, clinics, hospitals, medical colleges, and more.
What Can You Do With an MBA?
A Master of Business Administration degree can be used in various career fields and industries. MBA holders can work in the financial sector as a chief financial officer or financial analyst. Outside of finance, individuals with an MBA can work as project managers, or marketing directors. In the healthcare sector, MBA holders often work in clinics, medical colleges and more at high levels, focusing on improving and overseeing the operations of healthcare companies.
Salaries for MBA Holders
While the salary for the holder of a healthcare related MBA will change according to geographic area and industry, information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the annual wage of a salaried administrative service manager is somewhere in the region of $84,390. From 2012 to 2022, the need for MBA-holding administrative managers is likely to grow by a minimum of 12%.
What Can You Do with an MHA?
Graduates who hold a Masters of Health Administration degree can perform some of the same duties as those with an MBA. Only, the MHA degree is focused exclusively on how business can be implemented in the arena of healthcare. Individuals with an MHA generally work to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare, while maintaining relationships with patients, insurance companies, and managing the day to day operations of healthcare environments.
Salaries for MHA Holders
Once again, the salary for someone holding an MHA will vary according to their position and geographical location. However, a medical and health services manager can earn a mean salary of around $93,670 a year on average. The evidence suggests that New York, California, and Texas offer the highest levels of employment in this particular area, and employment opportunities are expected to increase by 16% from 2012 to 2022.
Resources and References:
- MBA vs. MHA: Which Degree Is Right for You? – A comprehensive article discussing the benefits of an MBA or MHA degree. (GWU.edu)
- Healthcare Management vs Healthcare Administration: Core Differences – An article describing the differences between healthcare management and healthcare administration. (MHADegree.org)