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Career Guide to JMU Majors:
Health Services Administration

Career Guide to JMU Majors

The Major

Who Succeeds

Careers

Internships

Learn More


The Major

The Health Services Administration major is located in the Department of Health Sciences within the College of Health and Behavioral Studies.

Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Health Services Administration is offered as a Bachelor of Science degree program through the Health Sciences Department. The mission of the department is to contribute to the liberal education of all students and to prepare students for professional careers in health science. The Health Services Administration program prepares students for entry-level administrative positions, and staff positions requiring administrative skills, in various health settings including hospitals, hospital systems, managed care organizations, retirement and long term care facilities, ambulatory care organizations, physician practices and public health facilities. The student is prepared to plan, organize, direct and control health programs and/or facilities. In addition, the program provides the foundation for graduate study in health services administration and related fields. The Health Services Administration program is a fully certified undergraduate program by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration. All Health Services Administration majors complete a minor in General Business. 

Tell me more about this field of study

Health services administrators manage health and medical facilities or individual departments within them. Health services administrators are responsible for ensuring financial success of their organization or department. These administrators plan, organize, lead and direct staff. They create and implement a wide variety of services and programs, manage their employees and facilities, evaluate existing and new services, identify and solve problems, and create and oversee budgets. These administrators work closely with clinical staff to understand their perspective and needs to assure quality patient care. They also may be actively involved in the community, attending meetings or making speeches to community groups and professional organizations.

Tell me more about specialization

Health services administrators may be generalists making them responsible for the operation of an entire facility or specialists who are in charge of specific functional areas, departments or services. Examples of specific administrative responsibilities in health care facilities include clinical areas such as surgery, nursing, physical therapy, emergency room and psychiatric services. Specific non-clinical administrative responsibilities might include finance, risk and compliance security, marketing, quality management, managed care contracting, development (fund raising), facility maintenance, and environmental services. As specialists, administrators must be trained and have experience in the area they manage. Generalists require a more comprehensive background in overall functions since they have broader managerial responsibilities.

Typical positions in health services administration include hospital administrators, department managers, group medical practice managers and health maintenance organization (HMO) managers. Hospital administrators are generalists that work with the organization's governing board to develop long range business plans, policies and set the overall direction of the institution. They are responsible for the success of these plans, such as proposals to expand health care services or to orchestrate a fund-raising campaign. Department managers are accountable for staff, budgets, programs, and policies for their specific area. They work closely with other department managers. Group medical practice managers work side by side with the physician owners. They manage the business operations while the physicians make the policy decisions. Health maintenance organization managers have similar responsibilities as managers in a large group medical practice but they may have much larger staffs.

Health care organizations within which health services administrators work are also varied. Facilities can range from single hospitals to multi-hospital systems, nursing homes, clinics, hospices, cancer centers, to health maintenance organizations, public health departments, medical groups practices, mental health centers, ambulatory care facilities and rehabilitation centers.

Common majors or minors that complement this major

All Health Services Administration students complete a minor in General Business. Students may also consider major or minor combinations in Accounting, Communication Studies, Chronic Illness, Conflict Analysis and Intervention , Gerontology, Health Communication, Management, Marketing, Modern Foreign Language, Public Policy and Administration, Psychology, Sociology and Urban and Regional Studies.


Characteristics of Successful Students

Students who are self-directed, industrious and possess strong analytical, conceptual and leadership skills are more successful in this field. Working well with others, possessing good communication skills and having the ability to identify and solve problems are also important. Also, having a great interest in serving others and being in the helping profession is essential.


Careers

Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Assisted Living Facility Administrator
  • Association Director
  • Cancer Center Director
  • Clinic Administrator
  • Clinical Coordinator
  • Community Health Specialist
  • Community Volunteer Director
  • Disability Claim Manager
  • EMS Program Director
  • Emergency Medicine Administrator
  • Financial Analyst
  • Grant Writer
  • Health Care Consultant
  • Health Care Marketing Specialist
  • Health Care Recruiter
  • Health Insurance Planner
  • Health Insurance/ HMO Advocate
  • Health Planning Analyst
  • Health Program Evaluator
  • Health Services Administrator
  • HMO Contract Coordinator
  • Home Health Agency Director
  • Homeless Programs Coordinator
  • Hospice Director
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Hospital Contract Analyst
  • Hospital Patient Admissions Manager
  • Hospital Safety Coordinator
  • Hospital Wellness Coordinator
  • Human Resources Coordinator
  • Information and Referral Specialist
  • Managed Care Analyst
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Medical Equipment Sales Director
  • Medical Group Manager
  • Medical Office Manager
  • Medical Record Administrator
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Outreach/ Referral Coordinator
  • Patient Care Administrator
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
  • Public Health Analyst
  • Public Health Investigator
  • Quality Improvement Coordinator
  • Retirement Community Director
  • SPA/ Health Club Manager
  • Substance Abuse Director

Who employs graduates?

Ambulatory Care Facilities, Colleges/Universities, Community Service Agencies, Consulting Firms, Corporate Wellness Programs, Federal/State/Local Governments, International Health Organizations, Health Care Associations, Health Clinics, Health Maintenance Organizations, Hospices, Hospitals, Hospital Systems, Insurers/Managed Care Organizations, Medical Centers, Medical Equipment Firms, Medical Group Practices, Mental Health Organizations, Nonprofit Agencies, Nursing Homes, Pharmaceutical Firms, Physician Practices, Public Health Departments,  Rehabilitation Centers, and Women’s Clinics.


Internships and Practicum Experiences

All students within the Health Services Administration program are required to complete an internship (HSA 454 Internship in Health Organizations) during their senior year. The Program Director works with students to locate an appropriate internship based on location and setting preferences, and must approve all internships completed under HSA 454. In HTH 458, Health Program Planning, students organize and implement a campus‑wide health event. Students could also benefit from membership in professional organizations such as the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the American College of Health Care Administrators. Students should consult with the Program Director for more information. 


Learn More

What are JMU graduates doing with this major?
A Day in the Life of a Health Care Administrator
A Day in the Life of a Public Health Administrator
American College of Healthcare Executives
American Health Information Management Association
Health Administrator
Health Information Careers
Health Management Careers
Health Services Administration
Medical and Health Services Managers (OOH)

A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.

Make an appointment with a CAP career counselor to learn more about this major and your career options.

A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:


© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University, 2013

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career & Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to the Career Guide editor, Nina Stensby-Hurst.