When most people think of a career in public health, health policy and management positions are likely to come to mind first. Individuals with degrees in health policy and management will be health care policy analysts, hospital administrators, health care researchers, lobbyist, or a variety of other options. A degree in health policy and management will allow an individual to work in many fields that will influence the lives of many.
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Why Work in Health Policy and Management?
A career in health policy and management is ideal for those who wish to influence individuals lives through developing health programs and policies and analyzing them to ensure they are beneficial and can be accessed by those who need them. Much of this work also involves making sure the individuals served both want and agree to the policies or programs, so working with communities is important.
An education in Health Policy may also lead an individual to a career as a health administrator. This requires someone who is organized, efficient, and who can ensure the the smooth running of a hospital, clinic or organization.
Public Health Policy and Management Degrees
A degree in Health Policy, Management, or Administration encompasses almost all topics related to public health. The American Health care System, health care policies, socio-cultural studies, social justice, and the history of health care and public health are just some of the topics learned that relate directly to the degree. Additionally classes in environmental health, epidemiology, biostatistics, leadership and business management are also taken as they relate public health.
Bachelors in Public Health Policy and Management
A bachelor's degree in Health Policy, Management, or Administration will prepare an individual for the health care economy. This includes courses covering business (management theories, financial management system, business planning, legal issues related to health care) leadership and management (team work, organizational behavior, communication skills) and health care (epidemiology, health care environments, health policy). These courses prepare the student for a wide variety of careers and fields. Its recommended that students choose electives wisely to focus their efforts on an area of health care. This may be health care management, marketing, policy, etc.
Masters in Public Health Policy and Management
A Masters in Health Policy, Management, or Administration will help to narrow down the students focus and improve skills. Most individuals gaining a Master of Science or MPH in health policy and management will be seeking careers as middle managers or in higher paying positions. A masters degree will develop skills in writing, research, advocacy and analysis. These skills are important because careers a this level will influence policies and regulations that improve the health of others on a large scale.
Courses for the MSPH or MPH will include statistics, academic research, ethics and biostatistics along with courses in the US Health Care System, policy communication, health economics and other policy related classes. The bachelor's degree would have taught theory, so the MSPH or MPH will put the theory into practice and understanding through presentations, papers and research.
Also at the master's level, individuals may have the option to further specialize their concentration and focus on public health policy and administration as it relates to social and behavioral sciences, environmental health, health care management, and more.
Online MPH at the George Washington University (MPH @ GW)
The online Master of Public Health (MPH) program from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (MPH @ GW) prepares public health professionals to make a difference in communities around the world, helping students succeed in advancing the health of populations locally and globally. Complete your MPH in 12 months. GRE waivers available.
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Online MPH at the University of North Carolina (MPH @ UNC)
UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, top-ranked on U.S. News' most recent list in 2015, offers an online Master of Public Health program, MPH @ UNC.
Admissions information at OnlineMPH.UNC.edu.
Online Master of Public Health at Simmons College
MPH @ Simmons, the online Master of Public Health program from Simmons College, prepares students to become public health practitioners and address health inequity at a local, national, and global level. The program can be completed in 21 months. No GRE required to apply.
Admissions information at Online.Simmons.edu.
Doctorate in Public Health Policy and Management
There are two degrees at the doctoral level available to public health students. The Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management and the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). The Ph.D. degree will be research and academic based. The courses will focus on developing research, organizational financing and planning, and other special topics. Individuals will be required to develop a thesis with dissertation and/or complete an oral exam. Entrance into a Ph.D. program will often be more rigorous with written or oral exams and interviews. Individuals with a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management will either work in academia, researching public health policy, or work as a high level public health official.
The DrPH is often curated for the long-standing public health professional. This degree is best suited for the professional who is looking to advance their career after working in their field. Course work will utilize previous experience to draw from as mastery is developed in population health promotion, disease prevention, social analysis, and health system management. Courses in more advanced leadership and management skills may also be required for a DrPH in Health Policy and Management.
As this degree is often aimed at working professionals, admissions usually only require interviews, limited examinations, and/or a certain number of years experience. A thesis, dissertation, capstone or exam may be required for graduation.
Public Health Policy Careers and Industries
A career in Health care Administration, Management or Policy can be found in a variety of fields. Individuals with these degrees can work for large and small hospitals, non-profit organizations, health management organizations, consulting firms, government, education, etc. They can work as project or program managers, researchers, consultants, middle to upper management of hospitals, medical groups, trade associations and many more options.
The aforementioned positions within healthcare have several commonalities:
- serve groups of people
- manage groups of workers
- are utilized as experts in their field
- educate the public or communities
- and advocate for others
Health Policy Management Career Highlight
Medical and Health Services Managers plan, direct, and coordinate medical health services in hospitals, managed care organizations, clinics or public health agencies. This work includes financial operations, communications, program development, and other tasks. A solid understanding of management, finances, program development and health care systems are needed for this position. Because of the level of knowledge needed, most jobs require a master's level degree with extensive background experience or knowledge. This career (also known as a clinical director, social service manager, or program director) is on the rise with 150,000 projected job openings from 2012-2022 (source).
For those with a bachelors degree a career as a market research analyst may be a good option. In this job an individual will collect and analyze data and present it to their client or employer. This can be data on client demographics, utilization, competitors, etc. Critical thinking and communication (written and oral) are among the most utilized skills along with research and data comprehension. A bachelors degree in heath policy and management with classes taken in research and statistics will prepare a student for this degree. These individuals are also projected to be in demand and make on average a median annual salary of $61,000 (source).
Public Health Policy Associations to Know
Individuals seeking a career in Health Policy and Administration should join an organization that will provide continuing education, networking opportunities and other valuable resources such as job or career pages. Three options are: