Mention a career in health care and the images that spring immediately to mind are doctors, nurses and busy hospital wards. This industry has numerous hospital jobs in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and other major cities in the US. However there is much more to the world of health care than meets the eye, not least the health care executives who work behind the scenes to make sure our hospitals and clinics run like clockwork.

In a nutshell, it is the health care executives’ responsibility to make sure their organization has the medical and financial resources to deliver the best possible care for their patients and clients. The health care management sector is a burgeoning industry and one of the few that combines excellent employment opportunities and very generous salaries – a rare mix in these uncertain economic times.

In the US, 3.1 million new jobs were created in health care between 1996 and 2006, making it one of the fastest growing industries around. Salaries will depend on the employer and level of responsibility, but US$100,000+ per year is easily within reach for those with the right qualifications. Of course, health care extends far beyond just hospitals and clinics, with qualified health care executives also eligible for top positions in health insurance companies, health care associations, rehabilitation centres, public health departments and more.

Pic: AP.

Health care executives fulfill a range of roles across the industry. Experienced and well-qualified professionals fill many of the top positions in the sector, such as chief executives or vice-presidents of hospitals or hospital systems. At entry level, most health care administration professionals focus on one or two areas, such as nursing administration, planning and development, medical staff relations, or finance.

Many will build their skills through further education and experience as their career progresses. Employers look for a range of skills and strengths in their entry-level managers. Strong communication and management skills are seen as essential, while adaptability and dependability are big pluses.

As with any industry, the right qualification is essential for a successful career in health care administration. Prospective students should look for a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health care Management Education (CAHME) and has a good reputation among employers. Employment rates, teacher-student ratios, facilities for foreign students, location and fees should also all be taken into account.

As the demand for well-educated health care executives has increased, so has the number and quality of the bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs focusing on every area of health care administration, so there is no shortage of choice. Here are 10 of the best:

SULLIVAN UNIVERSITY
Kentucky’s largest private university, Sullivan University, offers a range of health care administration programs, led by its flagship MBA with a concentration in Health care Administration Management. Sullivan also offers a highly-regarded Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration on Health care Management. Both programs can be taken either on campus or online and offer excellent career opportunities. Sullivan provides lifetime employment assistance for its graduates and prides itself on the unique work-study opportunities it offers to overseas health care administration students. Visit the website.

Pic: Sullivan University.

 

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
A regular on US News & World Report’s top health care administration programs, the University of Washington’s Master of Health Administration (MHA) Program is regarded as one of the best in the United States. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health care Management Education (CAHME) and focuses on equipping students with the technical, academic and leadership skills that will propel them successful careers in the health care industry. The university also a part-time two-year Executive MHA program that enables students to gain a top health care administration qualification without leaving their current employment. Visit the website.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – ANN ARBOR
Frequently ranked as one of the best health care administration programs in the US, the University of Michigan’s Masters of Health Services Administration (M.H.S.A.) is one of the most sought-after programs in the US. Those lucky enough to be admitted are educated to the highest level in the organization, financing, marketing and management of health care institutions, with a strong focus on business administration. For those already in employment the university offers a non-residential Executive M.H.S.A. that allows students to continue working while furthering their education. Visit the website.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – BERKELEY (HAAS)
The University of California Berkeley’s Health Management Certificate is one of a range of highly-regarded certificates available within its Haas School’s two-year MBA program. Graduates leave the Haas School with the skill set required to take leadership roles across the health care industry with an excellent grounding in business development, health organization, finance and strategic planning. As well as studying in one of the best MBA programs in the US, students also enjoy unparalleled international student support services and get to study at one of the country’s most sought-after campuses. Visit the website.

JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Another regular in the upper reaches of US News & World Report’s top health care administration programs list, Johns Hopkins’ Department of Health Policy and Management offers a range of masters and doctoral degrees in health administration. The degrees offered are: Master of Health Administration; MSPH in Health Policy; PhD Programs; and DrPH in Health Care Management and Leadership. Johns Hopkins is renowned for its commitment to diversity and is regarded as one of the top universities in the US for foreign students. Visit the website. Visit the website.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
NYU Wagner’s Health Policy and Management program prides itself on “linking management, finance, and policy, and providing students with the cutting-edge concepts and skills needed to shape the future of health policy and management.” Graduates from this program get an enviable jump start in their careers and consistently progress to some of the top positions in the industry, both in the US and abroad. Add to this the excitement of studying in one of the world’s great cities and it is easy to see why this is one of the most sought-after health care administration programs in the country. Visit the website.

Pic: AP.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Boston University’s College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College offers a number of programs to suit the aspiring health care executive. With four academic departments and a proven track record, it is not surprising that Sargent College’s graduate programs rank in the top 15 percent in the US. The college also boasts an impressive list of alumni how have gone on to become leaders in the health care industry. With 1,200 students from countries all over the world, Sargent College has a personal atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else. Visit the website.

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
The University of Iowa’s College of Public Health offers a Master of Health Administration (MHA) program that provides graduates with all the skills they need to succeed at the highest levels of the health care industry. The program is accredited by the CAHME and focuses on providing its students with an understanding of the issues involved in running patient-centered operations as well as strong business skills.  Visit the website.

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (WHARTON)
For those who want to take their education to the highest level, or perhaps pursue an academic career in the health care field, Wharton’s PhD in Health Care Management and Economics “provides an interdisciplinary health services research focus applicable across private and public sectors.” Students usually come from a business, math or social sciences background, or are physicians or future physicians. Students receive intensive training in business and health care services while carrying out exciting, and often groundbreaking, research. Visit the website.

OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
Ohio State University’s School of Allied Medical Professions offers an undergraduate degree in Health care Information Management & Systems. Graduates come away equipped with the business and health care services know-how they need to land top entry-level positions in the industry. However, it is the program’s focus on health information management and information technology that sets it apart from the crowd. OSU also offers a range of  other health-related undergraduate and graduate programs that place it high in the rankings every year. Visit the website.