Not all Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) programs are created equal.
Today, more than ever, MHA candidates – especially those working full time – need an impactful program that can propel their careers while accommodating their hectic schedules. In turn, healthcare organizations want forward-thinking leaders with a productive blend of real-world experience and the academic rigor of a robust, innovative MHA program.
That’s where the online MHA program comes in. But what makes a first-rate online MHA program? For working candidates, these factors stretch beyond the strength of the curriculum and employment outlook to include methodology, delivery, flexibility, support and more. Read on to learn what you should look for as you prepare to balance work, life and your MHA coursework.
1. Employer-Aligned Curriculum
The healthcare industry is in a continuous state of change. Government regulations, healthcare innovations, rising costs, technological advancements and patient expectations influence operations and defy the business-as-usual approach. To keep pace with these complexities, healthcare organization leadership wants ethical leaders who are innovative, team players, and understand revenue cycle management, project management, and data analytics.
A strong MHA curriculum should directly address the competencies and skills that are relevant to business- and patient-impacting trends facing organizations while keeping a keen eye on adding value to the business and creating a positive patient experience. By attaining critical input from leading industry professionals, a program can devise an employer-aligned curriculum that identifies and incorporates these real-life challenges and evolving demands into its coursework to provide the knowledge and critical skills needed to develop astute, prepared and resilient healthcare leaders.
This employer-centric approach to course development offers a more complete understanding of the industry climate, providing the employer with a unique opportunity to strengthen the organization’s importance to the community it serves and ability to improve and transform healthcare delivery.
2. Flexibility to Meet Life’s Demands
In today’s busy world, finding the time to earn a graduate degree can be a challenge in itself. Online programs continue to gain popularity in large part due to their ability to allow working professionals to complete their degree on their own time – whether before work, after work or over the weekend. Online programs allow working professionals to tackle coursework as their schedule permits, wherever they are.
The Boston College MHA takes this a step further to offer a combination of self-paced and interactive learning. This model balances work experience, coursework and industry-specific projects to provide the working professional with the skills and knowledge that are immediately relevant to your job.
This flexibility is not limited to how the program is delivered. It also encompasses how frequently courses are offered. Accelerated program formats – such as those offered in eight-week terms – offer more frequent enrollment starts to help fast-track degree completion.
3. Placing Value on Work Experience
Work experience is a value-add that will not be overlooked. Boston College’s MHA program is a personalized learning program that recognizes and appreciates existing knowledge base and experience, which is a key consideration for any MHA candidate.
Expert faculty instructors and a competency-based education (CBE) model can offer tremendous value by taking into account real-world experience to allow working professionals to move quickly through content they already know and focus on compelling new information to build proficiency and acquire the skills needed to achieve their career goals. This next-generation learning model accommodates each MHA candidate’s unique background to promote better engagement and drive efficiency and productivity.
4. Partnership and Support with Individual Success in Mind
While the online element is a vital component for the working professional, it cannot overshadow the value of interaction and support. Online courses with both self-paced and faculty-led components can offer individuals the right mix of assistance and autonomy.
Look for a program that offers ready access to professors and meaningful online communication with peers to improve opportunities for academic success. Programs that encourage collaboration with classmates can extend invaluable opportunities to discuss strategic challenges that face the healthcare industry and provide practical solutions.
“My classmates are all in the healthcare field, but in different professions. It’s interesting to discuss current healthcare issues from the viewpoint of a doctor, nurse and administrator.”
Ashley Lewis, a student in the Boston College MHA program
5. A Network that Support Individual and Future Success
A working professional undoubtedly understands the value of a strong network. It is not always enough to have the right skill set or knowledge base. An online MHA program that is backed by a large, diverse and dynamic network of healthcare professionals can be fundamental to finding the right job or advancing a career. When researching MHA programs, investigate their alumni networks – for example, how large are they and how active are the members? Additionally, sponsored professional association events can enhance the breadth of one’s networking, help individuals learn about industry issues, and provide insight into job and mentoring opportunities.
While there are many factors to consider in finding the MHA program that aligns with an individual’s unique needs and demanding schedule, an effective program will deliver the education, knowledge and ability to support career advancement, and prepare working professionals to become leaders that add value and insight to healthcare organizations. Boston College’s online MHA program, designed with industry healthcare leaders, provides a curriculum focused on mastering the skills that healthcare employers are looking for when they make hiring and promotion decisions.
For more about our MHA degree program, visit http://onlinemha.bc.edu/masters-in-health-care-administration/ or call 1-617-449-4970.