Career Guide to JMU Majors:
Health Services Administration
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 medical 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 functions of an entire facility or specialists who can be in charge of specific clinical departments or services. Examples of specific areas in health care facilities include clinical areas such as surgery, nursing, physical therapy, emergency room and psychiatric services. Specific administrative areas might include finance, security, marketing, quality management, development (fund raising), facility maintenance, and housekeeping. 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. There usually is a strong emphasis on preventative care.
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 Management, Accounting, Marketing, Communication Studies, Conflict Analysis and Intervention, Chronic Illness, Gerontology, Health Communication, Psychology, and Sociology.
Students who are self-directed, industrious and possess strong analytical, conceptual and leadership skills are more successful in this field. Working well with others, good communication skills and ability to identify and solve problems are also important. Also, having a great interest in the field of health is essential.
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.
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.
All students within the Health Services Administration program are required to complete an internship – HSA 454 Internship in Health Organization 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 wellness day. 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.
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 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