Healthcare executives tend to require more management training than compared to other industries. 84% of hospital CEOs have a Masters degree or higher, and that number appears to be increasing over time. Many undergrads and recent graduates who are interested in healthcare management careers know this and are planning to apply to graduate programs in health management. These degrees come with various names: Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA), Master of Business Administration with healthcare concentration (MBA), and Master of Public Health with management concentration(MPH).
But how do you decide which programs would be best for you? Let’s assume that you are not limited geographically and you can move wherever you want to. You only want to consider CAHME accredited programs, but that is still a pretty long list. What about the US News and Work Reports rankings? That helps, but every program in the top 10 is a solid program, so the real trick is figuring out which programs fit your unique personal and professional goals. Healthcare management programs vary in the degree they cover industry segments (such as health care delivery, retail pharmacy, insurance, biotech, etc.) and job role ( operations management, consulting, and policy). In addition, programs will have both formal and informal job placement networks with various organizations across various geographies.
These differences may seem subtle at first, but in reality this plays a major role in where you land your first job and whether or not you are in a leadership track. For example, if you choose MHA program A, will your first job be an operations manager working in Virginia at a nationwide tax-paying health system, or will you be an analyst for an insurance company in the Great Lakes area? The best way to see these differences between health management programs is to get a report on the recent graduates and compare. Most of the good programs will either have it on their website or are happy to provide this to you. However, sometimes they don’t or won’t.
You can get the same information yourself without asking or waiting for the program coordinator to get back to you. It is easier than you think and can be done using LinkedIn Alumni Search. LinkedIn Alumni Search will help you easily see the profiles of recent health management graduates, the companies they work for, and the geographical areas in which they live.
Step 1: Go to the LinkedIn Alumni Search tool.
Log into LinkedIn. The Alumni Search tool is under “My Network”–> then “Find Alumni” in the top menu.
The LinkedIn Alumni tool shows you all of the alumni for a school, with the ability to drill down more specifically by keyword, graduation year, or by any of the information points displayed. The information points include:
- Where they live (see geographically where graduates go)
- Where they work (see what companies they work for)
- What they do
- What they studied (use this to narrow search to ONLY heath management grads)
- What they are skilled at
Step 2: Change to the university you want to see.
Click on the Change University button. Search for the college/university you want and select it from the list of results.
For this example, Ill compare Virginia Commonwealth University with University of Minnesota and University of Michigan. All three are very strong, top-5 programs that help their graduates succeed in the workforce. Looking at their recent alumni will help you see whose workforce, where, and doing what jobs. You have to do steps 2 through 5 one at a time to compare across schools.
Step 3: Narrow the list to just healthcare management graduates in recent years.
Once you change it to the university it will show all graduates for all years. We want to change it to Healthcare Management graduates for only recent years. Click on the magnifying glass next to the “What they Studied” information header and search for “Health/Health Care Administration/Management”. Once you select Health/Health Care Administration/Management you will be only looking at MHA, MSHA, etc. Health Management grads.
It is also important to limit the graduation years you will see. Although you may want to know where you will end up in 20 years, it is a social media site not a fortune teller. Looking a recent grads will give you a good idea of where the school has corporate relationships and what those first jobs look like for that school. I put in “Attended 2005 – 2015” for my comparison, but you can look at “Graduated in 20XX” or whatever you like. Just note that some programs are 2 years and some are 3 years so my search will result in displaying some current students as well.
You may also want to limit your search to specific degrees if the school has multiple healthcare management degrees. For example, VCU has an MSHA (executive format) as well as a traditional MHA. I am only interested in the MHA graduates so I put “MHA” in the keywords box, and did the same thing for Minnesota. For Michigan, I put “Master of Health Services Administration” because it had the most results, but if you try “MHSA” you also get 75 more results.
Step 4: Compare the results and reach out to alumni.
Look at the images below: Keep in mind that you are not actually comparing all graduates, you are comparing graduates who set up their linkedIn profiles a certain way. You may also want to tinker with the keywords, years of graduation, etc. VCU has a three-year program with a required year-long administrative residency. The residency is like a guaranteed job placement, but only with certain organizations. The other two-year program’s graduates either enter the workforce directly or apply to a national fellowship.
Virginia Commonwealth University:
Geographically, recent VCU graduate locations have a large chunk(31%) in Richmond and Washington DC (12%). The Richmond population is probably over stated because VCU is a 3 year program and our search (up the 2015) will include current 2nd year and 3rd year students (who live in Richmond). A lot of recent VCU graduates work for Healthcare Corporation of America, Bon Secours, and Sentara. Most work in healthcare delivery organizations like hospitals and physician practices.
University of Minnesota:
UMN appears to have the most graduates, which makes sense given that they graduate significantly more students per year than the other programs. Geographically, a large portion (44%) of UMN graduates stay in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. There are pockets of graduates elsewhere around the country ranging from Chicago to Salt Lake City. UNM graduates work all over the map in terms of healthcare sector. You can see plenty of Healthcare Delivery organizations like Allina Health and Mayo Clinic, as well as Payers (insurance companies) like UnitedHealth, and consulting.
University of Michigan:
Similar to the other programs, a portion of Michigan graduates stay in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, and there also appears to be a strong connection to Chicago. Whats different about Michigan (compared to the other two) is that there are no anchor companies that have a bulk of graduates. Also, insurance and consulting companies are prevalent, and Consulting is higher(more common) on the jobs list.
Pro-Tip: Dig deeper and click on a few recent graduates. Look at their prior experience and any additional info on their profile page (like job title). If you are interested in their program, send them a message asking for some time for an informational interview about the program. This is a great way to get more insider information and to see what alumni might be like.
Not all recent graduates are on LinkedIn, and not all of these have their profiles setup with past schools, etc. so the above search will work correctly. However, most of them know the value of professional networks and keep up with it.
If you are deciding which health management program to apply to, -or which to accept an offer, the right question is, “Which program is most likely to help you have the early career opportunities that you want?”. Looking at linkedIn profiles will give you an idea of where typical graduates (like you) go after their program.
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