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Planning your Healthcare Leadership Career

Written by Suzanne Moss Richins, RN, DHA, FACHE, Adjunct Faculty/SME, ACU Master of Healthcare Administration Program

The healthcare industry is experiencing a rapid transformation. From adapting to the challenges of providing care during a pandemic to creating innovative ways to retain staff and improve employee morale, more traditional models of care delivery are being reevaluated. The current conversations in the field center around how best to address health inequities and ensure all communities can access quality and affordable care, while also seeking out adaptive and ingenious solutions for advancing technology and responding to a changing regulatory landscape. To tackle these challenges and pave the way for a new era in healthcare delivery, transformative healthcare leaders are needed.

ACU Online’s Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) program was designed to create these kinds of transformative students. Read on to learn how this program develops healthcare leaders through a combination of coursework, network development, and faculty mentorship! 

Emphasis on Leadership in Coursework

Our MHA program offers three concentrations: General, Healthcare Operations and Leadership. The General concentration offers broad exposure to the field of healthcare administration and leadership, while a Healthcare Operations concentration focuses on systems and practices necessary for the administration of services in a variety of healthcare organizations. And, while our Leadership concentration is uniquely crafted for students interested in pursuing opportunities to lead in their healthcare career, all of these concentrations share an interest in developing students who can be industry innovators and leaders.

Coursework in this concentration examines theoretical and practical models of leadership, strategies for leading organizational change, and also facilitates students’ personal leadership development. The Leadership class (BUSA 530) offers an overview of how individuals manage and lead themselves through forms of influence within groups, businesses, and corporations. Building on this theoretical foundation, the Self-Reflection in Healthcare Leadership course (HCAD 601) assists students in gaining a personal understanding of their leadership approach by examining literature on personality type, communication style, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal neurobiology as it relates to healthcare leadership. In the final curriculum component of the Leadership concentration, Leading Organizational Change (COMM 631), students are introduced to the concept of the learning organization, equipping them with skills to create educational strategies for organizational change, and preparing them to reflect ethically on the implications of this change.

Built within the MHA curriculum, alongside the courses mentioned, are opportunities and assignments for students to reflect on how to use their Christian identity to promote social justice, equity, and ethical policy in the healthcare system. With this thread uniting every course and concentration, the MHA produces students who are well-educated, theoretically grounded, self-aware leaders committed to ethical organizational leadership, rooted in their Christian values. 

Networking in the Classroom and Beyond

In addition to developing a strong sense of personal leadership, students meet leaders working in the healthcare fields they’re interested in pursuing. Students are also encouraged to network with one another to form meaningful connections that extend beyond their time in school and into their careers. Our full-time and adjunct faculty often share their extensive experience leading healthcare organizations and navigating the job market. With our faculty’s wealth of connections and familiarity in this industry, they’re able to advise students—whether they have healthcare experience or not—about relevant roles and smart career steps before and after graduation.

During this program, students are persuaded to join local chapters of healthcare professional organizations such as the American College of Healthcare Executives and look for ways to volunteer in their communities and their respective healthcare fields. Another way for students to get involved is through volunteering inside their companies, at the unit or department level. Committee participation outside the department provides occasions to meet other leaders in the organization, while internal networking creates and expands relationships with colleagues. Each of these networking opportunities—both with peers and superiors—allows students to foster relationships with healthcare leaders, often leading to resources and insights into potential job openings down the line. This networking helps students pursue their chosen career in a meaningful, well-connected way.

The program emphasizes networking intentionally, and for good reason. According to Dr. Suzanne Moss Richins, Registered Nurse and professor in ACU’s Master of Healthcare Administration Program:

“The majority of the jobs I had in my career came from networking. I was often surprised when someone called and asked me to apply for a position. Many times, I would not have known about the job without the phone call. Plus, one healthcare leader will often ask another one, ‘Who do you know that will work hard and fits this job description?’ 

Thus, our program emphasizes these networking relationships because they are critical for acquiring jobs, advancing careers, and sustaining students’ vocation.

So, ACU Online’s Master of Healthcare Administration program is uniquely valuable because it develops leadership skills, facilitates networking, and teaches the fundamentals of healthcare management. In these times, it is imperative to produce members of the healthcare management field who are innovative, dynamic, and well-connected. Want to become part of this next generation of leaders? Learn more about this program or our other healthcare degrees by visiting our website or calling 855-219-7300 to start the enrollment process!

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