By earning a master’s in healthcare administration — like the online Healthcare Master of Business Administration (HCMBA) from the George Washington University (GW) — you can become better qualified for pursuing senior-level positions in the field.
The HCMBA, like the MBA in general, can also potentially improve your expected career earnings. According to a Financial Times assessment of MBA programs from 2014 to 2017, degree recipients typically doubled their pre-MBA compensation within three years of graduating.
These potential benefits attract candidates of all professional backgrounds to MBA programs, from physicians to business executives. We’ll examine some of the common groups that choose to pursue the GW HCMBA, why they do so and what career outcomes they often attain by earning their degrees.
The most important considerations when contemplating an HCMBA
Like most graduate degrees, the HCMBA program provides additional expertise and experience that can help its graduates qualify for additional opportunities and advance their careers. Before enrolling, though, it’s important for any prospective student to consider:
- What specific skills and competencies they hope to gain: An HCMBA can provide the right path toward better business acumen as well as improved understanding of technologies, regulatory processes and research practices in the healthcare sector.
- How a healthcare administration MBA compares to a plain MBA: A typical, non-health care-focused MBA will generally cover core topics in finance and management, but won’t provide the additional background relevant for medical professionals.
- Whether the program fits well into their overall schedule: MBAs are often earned by students with numerous other personal and professional commitments, a situation which can be challenging. Online formats like the GW HCMBA offer the most flexibility.
Evaluating these criteria, many students choose the online HCMBA because of its combination of rigor and convenience. They also come to the program from diverse backgrounds. Let’s start by looking at why physicians in particular might opt for the HCMBA.
What physicians gain from a healthcare MBA
The idea of a medical doctor earning an MBA might seem counterintuitive at first, given how much time physicians already have to devote to a bachelor’s degree, medical school and a residency before they begin practicing. However, the benefits of having an HCMBA can merit the extra investment in time, money and effort. They include:
Financial and operational expertise
Running a private practice isn’t easy. According to the 2018 Survey of America’s Physicians by the Physicians Foundation and Merritt Hawkins, less than one-third of the 8,700 individuals surveyed reported that they operated their own practices, compared to nearly half who worked for hospitals or medical groups.
An HCMBA can help in two different ways in this context.
First, it can provide crucial business acumen on everything from accounting to marketing. Physicians with MBAs can leverage this expertise in optimizing their practices for the highly competitive environment today, in which it can be difficult to maintain autonomy and independence from larger providers.
Second, it can sharpen the skills needed to succeed as an administrator in a hospital or medical group setting. This business model has become increasingly common this decade as the share of doctors in private practice dropped almost 20% from 2012 to 2018.
Effective healthcare administration requires close collaboration, often across multiple teams. Physicians, nurses, administrators, IT staff, maintenance personnel and many other stakeholders are essential to the normal functioning of a hospital or medical office.
With an HCMBA, a physician is better equipped to take on the leadership roles that contribute to team success. HCMBA courses in topics such as organizations and human capital, strategic management, decision-making and data analysis build a solid foundation for overseeing modern healthcare processes.
On a more technical level, the healthcare-specific coursework of the HCMBA is invaluable in navigating the administrative challenges facing today’s providers and payers. Major issues such as handling changes in reimbursement, ensuring proper staffing (there could be a shortage of 100,000 doctors in the U.S. by 2030) and responding to the ongoing opioid crisis require the type of deep knowledge and experience developed in the HCMBA track.
Additional technical skills
The multiple graduate certificate options within the GW HCMBA offer opportunities to specialize in a variety of technical niches across healthcare. For doctors looking to advance their careers in specific areas of interest such as translational research or patient safety systems, these certificates add another dimension to the core skills developed in the HCMBA.
Who else benefits from earning an online HCMBA from GW?
While we have focused on why physicians might pursue an HCMBA, they’re far from the only professionals who commonly enroll in the program. The HCMBA also includes many students from industries such as pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, government, management consulting and insurance. Occupations are similarly varied and include nurses, medical administrators, project managers, surgeons and directors medical services.
Like physicians, HCMBA students from these backgrounds benefit from the program’s rigorous curriculum, convenient fully online learning format and applied focus. Throughout their studies, they get valuable exposure to real-world situations in which to apply business methodologies and best practices to healthcare issues.
The majority of incoming students have 10 or more years of professional experience. They may choose the HCMBA over alternatives such as the Master of Public Administration (MPA) because of the MBA’s deeper focus on private sector opportunities. In contrast, many MPA programs are geared toward government work. The MBA is also a more widely recognized degree and may provide a more direct path to certain types of occupations, although the degree-related preferences of individual employers will vary.
The HCMBA can be a valuable degree whether you’re a doctor, consultant, or administrator. Fully online, it includes a rigorous curriculum within a format that is well-suited to the busy schedules of today’s professionals. To learn more about the program, visit its main page or take a look at the curriculum overview.
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