A Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration prepares graduates to work in many areas of healthcare. Students graduate with the expertise that allows them to consider a variety of sectors within healthcare. Skilled in strong business and management principles, healthcare administration graduates are prepared to handle complex challenges involving budgeting and finance, value-based healthcare models, and an ever-changing regulatory environment.

One area that offers rapid growth and a chance to impact entire communities is public healthcare administration. Public healthcare administration attracts professionals committed to accomplishing a vital social mission and leading initiatives that improve health outcomes for large populations.

Why Choose Public Healthcare?

Every area of healthcare administration has the potential to positively impact the health of patients. Public healthcare is unique because it takes a larger, community-wide focus.

Public health is a term that covers a broad range of potential job settings. Some hospitals have a division that focuses on public health. Government agencies need public healthcare administrators to develop and implement policies. Nonprofit organizations typically focus on one area in population health, such as cancer or heart disease.

What drives an MHA graduate to choose public health?

  • The focus. Public healthcare is a division of the healthcare industry that focuses on disease prevention and promotion of healthy habits rather than treatment of individual patients.
  • Policy development. As an administrator in public healthcare, you have the opportunity to create policies and provide services that help prevent medical conditions from occurring or reoccurring.
  • Making a difference. Public health attracts those with a strong social policy commitment and a desire to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Working professionals drawn to public healthcare are typically also attracted to Master of Healthcare Administration programs, especially online formats that offer students a chance to balance school and their professional lives. Boston College’s Woods College of Advancing Studies Online Master of Healthcare Administration program is competency-based, self-paced, and aligned with the needs of healthcare employers.

Reasons Why Public Healthcare Jobs Are on the Rise

The main driver of increased public health jobs is the growing U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Population Clock, there is a net gain of another U.S. citizen every 29 seconds. The current population is 330.2 million people. The Census Bureau reports that about 12 percent of the population lives in poverty. In 2017, that translated into about 39.7 million people.

At the same time, the country’s populace is aging. The number of U.S. residents age 65 and over is expected to double to about 98 million by 2060, accounting for 24 percent of the population, according to the Population Reference Bureau. Additionally, many medical services are shifting from hospitals to the offices of healthcare practitioners, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

All of these factors create the need for more healthcare services, including those oriented toward public health, as well as a great need for administrators to lead organizations and healthcare staff.

Job Growth Numbers for Public Healthcare Administrators

The BLS provides projections for job growth for all “medical and health services managers.” Nationally, the growth is expected to reach 32 percent by 2029, far higher than the 4 percent average for all occupations. The mean annual wage was $118,800 in May 2020. In Massachusetts, the field is expected to grow 9.5 percent. The state offers one of the highest mean annual salaries for medical and health services managers in the country at $136,930.

Careers in Public Healthcare Administration

Hospitals. About 40 percent of hospitals participate in promoting public health programs, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

State government. State agencies play a significant role in public health. For example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention that focuses on addressing challenges such as chronic and infectious disease, substance abuse, violence, preventable hospitalizations, and health disparities. Jobs such as “Community Health Planning and Engagement Specialist” are open to those with a graduate degree.

Local government. Larger cities often have public health agencies. For example, Boston has the Boston Public Health Commission.

Healthcare analytics. Some states have created agencies to focus on healthcare analytics. For example, the Center For Health Information and Analysis in Boston is the agency for healthcare information in Massachusetts and it works to analyze healthcare data to find insights on improving the quality and effectiveness of the state’s healthcare system.

Nonprofit groups. There are hundreds of nonprofit groups, typically focused on specific populations. These include the elderly, children, the economically disadvantaged, underserved populations, and those with specific conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer.

For healthcare professionals who want to work in a career where their decisions have a direct impact on the health of the community, public healthcare administration is worth considering. Earning an MHA is an important step in achieving that career goal.