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Should I Earn My Graduate Degree in Healthcare

Higher Education Articles May 12, 2017

Overview of Graduate Programs in Healthcare

Graduate programs in several aspects of healthcare are available at many schools. A Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree program in Healthcare Management would be suitable for those interested in the business aspect of healthcare. A master’s degree program in nursing would benefit registered nurses. A physician’s assistant master’s degree program would suit those who holds a bachelor’s degree in a health science field with experience working directly with patients.

The emphasis of these programs is on advanced research and knowledge, and students may be required to have clinical experience or hands-on experiences, such as internships or group projects. Students enrolled in these programs will also be trained for mandatory or voluntary certification in the field.

Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Programs in Healthcare Management

Fundamental management and business courses are covered to add to the healthcare curriculum. Students learn about applying practical business skills to healthcare industry issues, such as healthcare economics and global business. Students are taught ethics and healthcare laws along with a healthcare manager’s professional responsibilities. They may also learn about additional topic areas including accounting, decision-making, and finance. An internship and group projects are completed by students, apart from their academic requirements on the watch of a mentor. The program may also include a consulting practicum.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. They must also submit a personal statement essay, Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores, a resume, and academic and professional references.


Program coursework may vary by school, especially at schools that offer many specialization areas. Topics on leadership predominate in this management degree program whose core coursework may cover subject areas such as:

•Healthcare marketing
•Supply chain management
•Healthcare Management
•Human resource management

Career Options

Program graduates can choose from careers in various healthcare industry settings, such as hospitals, government agencies, and insurance companies. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Project Manager
•Operations Manager
•Marketing Manager
•Supply chain manager

Certification and Continuing Education Options

Healthcare management professionals can seek certification credentials offered by numerous national organizations. Certification credentials are available through more than ten healthcare management areas by the American Health Information Management Association, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management. These credentials include board certification in healthcare management, certified patient account manager, and certified healthcare facility manager. While these credentialing programs are different from each other, candidates for these credentials are commonly required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a field of healthcare, along with work experience.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Advanced topic areas in nursing leadership and management, and nursing are in a master’s degree program in nursing. An area of specialization is available to nurses enrolled in this program. These specializations may include family nurse practitioner, such as adult nurse practitioner, nursing administration, nursing education, or clinical nurse specialist, among other specialty areas.

Nurses learn about applying leadership skills to healthcare organizations and leading a staff of employees effectively in the day-to-day running of a healthcare facility. Nurses might complete coursework covering health assessment, advanced practical nursing, or nursing theories, varying by their area of specialization. Research projects are completed by nurses, and a clinical practicum marks the end of the program where nurses can practice in medical facilities on the watch of physicians and faculty.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. They must also submit Graduate Records Examination scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement essay, apart from holding a current nursing license, and satisfying an undergraduate GPA standard of 3.0.


Program coursework varies by school and area of specialization. Advanced nursing and professional practices may be included in the coursework, regardless of specialization. Core coursework may commonly cover topic areas such as:

•Nursing management
•Human development
•Disease prevention

Career Options

Program graduates with a master’s degree in nursing may seek jobs in various settings, such as physician’s offices, nursing homes, and hospitals. Nurses may seek careers as advanced practicing nurses or hospital administrators. Program graduates may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Pediatric nurse
•Gerontological Nurse
•Forensic nurse
•Critical care nurse

Certification and Continuing Education Options

Post-master’s certificate programs, such as nurse administrator, nurse practitioner, gerontological nurse, or clinical nurse leader, may be pursued by program graduates, among other nursing specialties. They may choose to earn a doctoral degree in nursing that leads to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

Completion by nurses of post-master’s certificate programs and master’s degree programs will allow them to take credentialing exams leading to certification in a specialty area. Board certification is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center for clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and pediatric nurses, among other nursing specialties. The American Organization of Nurse Executives and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offer other certification options.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Physician Assistant Studies

The role of physician assistants (PAs) includes the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients on the supervisory watch of licensed physicians. Job responsibilities include collecting medical histories, ordering laboratory or other diagnostic tests, assisting physicians develop treatment plans and, in some states, prescribing medications.

Basic health science, primary care, and medical terminology are studied by graduate students before they can enter the program’s clinical phase. This phase covers clerkship at medical facilities including hospitals where the graduate student works on the watch of staff physicians and faculty mentors. Comprehensive examinations and research projects are also completed by students before they can graduate out of the program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have a bachelor’s degree in an area related to health science, along with having 250 hours of experience working directly with patients. Certification in a clinical field is necessary for admission to some programs.

Additionally, applicants should have completed substantial undergraduate coursework in microbiology, biology, pharmacology, labs, and physiology. Proof of current immunizations must also find submission by applicants who must additionally submit to a criminal background check, as well as drug and health screening.


Program coursework covers fundamental health sciences courses, including physiology and anatomy along with professional courses aimed at teaching the professional and ethical responsibilities of a physician assistant. Studies in cellular physiology or pharmacology may be in clinical courses. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Behavioral science
•Health promotion
•Disease prevention
•Geriatric healthcare

Job and Wage Outlook

In 2013, more than 28,700 individuals were employed as physician assistants, in the United States (BLS). Physician assitants are expected to see a much-faster-than-average job growth of 30%, over the 2014 – 2024 decade; in May 2016, a PA brought in an average annual wage of $101,480 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Options

The Physician Assistant Certifying Examination is available through the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. The examination results in the Physician Assistant Certified credential. To maintain certification, every six years certified PAs will have to retake the exam and every two years, they must complete 100 hours of continuing education credits.

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