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Healthcare Management: A Burgeoning Industry

In an uncertain economic climate, job security is a valuable commodity. But many careers that previously seemed recession-proof have been downsized, outsourced or shipped off to foreign countries. The trick is to find an industry in which the demand for services will be continual. One such area is healthcare.

No matter which way the economic indicators are pointing, people will continue to need medical care. As the Baby Boomers get older, they’ll need more and more health services, whether they seek care in hospitals, assisted living facilities, or at home. The demand for doctors and nurses will stay strong—as will the demand for the type of take-charge individuals who have the business skills and healthcare experience to run these facilities or programs.

This career path is generally known as health services management, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for personnel is on the rise. According to the bureau’s 2003/2004 Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2012, as the health services industry continues to expand and diversify. Opportunities will be especially good in offices of physicians and other health practitioners, home healthcare services and outpatient centers. Applicants with work experience in the healthcare field and strong business and management skills should have the best opportunities.”

Earning potential is solid, as well. The median salary for health services managers was $61,370 in 2002, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning more than $109,000, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Career opportunities are good for job seekers who have either a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in health services. Those with Bachelor’s degrees tend to start out in entry-level assistant positions, while those with Master’s degrees may find work as department managers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The key is to find a program that provides the necessary training. At American InterContinental University (AIU) Online, students can earn either a Bachelor’s or an MBA in healthcare management, and they can do it all online.

Distance learning holds several advantages over traditional on-campus learning. According to Dr. Judie Stein, a professor in AIU Online’s healthcare management program, online learning provides “nontraditional” students—those with different learning styles, those with obligations that might prevent them from taking part in an on-campus degree program, or those who don’t live near a brick-and-mortar university—with a way to advance their education and their careers. Dr. Lyn Hoffman, AIU Online’s dean of academic affairs, agrees. “Online education is so important to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity,” she says.

Online learning also provides students with a flexibility they might not otherwise receive. Stein tells the story of one student who is stationed on a ship with the Navy. He was going to be without Internet access, so Stein worked with him so that he could remain on track with his coursework.

At AIU Online, students receive the same services and support that they might find at a traditional campus. They can access the campus “Cybrary” (that’s AIU Online’s term for its cyber-library) and get career guidance from the Career Services Center, where a Career Services Advisor can assist them with a cover letter, their résumé, and interviewing tips. Students earn a degree from a regionally accredited university and may even qualify for financial aid to help pay for their studies, if eligible. And contrary to a popular misconception, Hoffman says, students have as much, if not more, interaction with their professors than they would at a traditional university. While the interaction might not be face-to-face, students can communicate with their teachers via email or online chats. Stein says she really gets to know her students personally because she responds to 10 to 15 student emails a day, and she holds two live online chats per week that allow students to ask questions or clarify assignments. The chats are archived for students who are unable to log on at the designated time. Students interact with their peers as well, by conducting discussions on a class bulletin board.

AIU Online is also geared toward adult learners. Instead of a traditional final exam or paper, students work on projects that are focused on real-world deliverables.

The AIU Online program is ideal for career changers who can’t afford to give up the steady job they currently hold but are eager to explore new career options. Students on the virtual campus can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration in Healthcare Management much faster than traditional degree programs provided they have already earned an associate’s degree or its equivalent. The specialized curriculum includes courses offering an overview of the healthcare industry, the ethical and legal aspects of healthcare and healthcare management, and statistical analysis and economics in a global environment. AIU Online also offers an MBA in Healthcare Management, that involves studies in topics like health policy, global financial management, systems in healthcare, and leadership and ethics for managers.

“The healthcare management program is especially attractive to students who are already in the healthcare field and want to move their careers in a new direction,” says Stein. But even students who are new to the field can find success with an online degree from AIU Online. By studying healthcare management, students can open the door to a career in a fast-growing, well-paying new field, and they can do it all from the comfort of their own computer screen.

American InterContinental University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees.

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