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Master of Public Health vs. Healthcare Master of Business Administration: Which is right for you?

Friday, December 7, 2018
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Master of Public Health vs. Healthcare Master of Business Administration: Which is right for you?
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If you dream of helping to improve the quality of healthcare or strive to develop new methods of patient care delivery, you may be interested in the health sector. There are plenty of career possibilities for individuals looking to grow in this field. Trends like telemedicine, the innovation of modern treatments and global health are making new positions in disease prevention and care management available.

Currently, the demand for medical professionals is extremely high, as the overall sector is rapidly growing. While health organizations are in need of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who work in the direct line of care, the number of public health positions are increasing exponentially. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, openings in these administrative healthcare careers are increasing at the following rates through 2026:

  • Medical and health services manager: 20 percent
  • Medical records and health information technician: 13 percent
  • Epidemiologist: 9 percent
  • Health and safety engineer: 9 percent

In order to gain respect and influence in your medical and health services career, whether you work in the field or at an administrative or executive level, professionals often need to expand their skill set and knowledge through an advanced degree. Students who want to pursue a master's degree in this field may want to narrow down their graduate school options to the following types of degrees: the Master of Public Health (MPH) and the Healthcare Master of Business Administration (HCMBA). In order to decide which degree best suits your passions and career goals, you should compare the two types of degrees.

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Beginning with the more popular of the two degree choices, the MPH is a strong step in the right direction to gain greater autonomy and a higher comprehension of how to create positive change. MPH programs generally focus on improving students' understanding of a variety of public health topics, such as expanding access to care and treatment, raising public awareness of positive lifestyle choices, serving disadvantaged communities, planning and executing on disease prevention practices and developing policies to improve overall population health.

Some of the major curriculum distinctions of an MPH include courses related to the following subjects:

  • Biostatistics.
  • Epidemiology.
  • Health policy and management.
  • Public health ethics and principles.
  • Social, behavioral and environmental health.

The types of courses required for MPH students vary based on the university. For instance, some programs require students to take the same set of courses, while other programs, like Yale University's two-year MPH, require a limited amount of core requirements as well as a variation in courses based on the student's chosen concentration. The wide breadth of courses that MPH students must take provides opportunities for development in a variety of careers. Graduates might become medical and health services managers, or perhaps they'd rather take their skills elsewhere by working in a research institution, government agency or nonprofit. The options in healthcare are endless for MPH graduates.

medical researcher in lab coatWhether you pursue the MPH or the HCMBA, you will gain new insight that can help to propel your career in the public health sector.

Healthcare Master of Business Administration (HCMBA)

While an MPH can prepare students to become well-versed in the innovations of health processes and improvements of quality of care, an HCMBA provides students with the experience and knowledge to make these aspirations into realities.

Healthcare professionals know that business and healthcare are directly related in certain ways. The HCMBA allows students to gain insight into various facets of public health as well as knowledge in the business sector. This degree can directly benefit medical professionals who want to make a difference in public health and disease prevention. HCMBA students can learn entrepreneurial skills and business sense that can help put their ideas to work.

Some of the subjects students study under an HCMBA program, such as the Healthcare MBA at Loyola University Chicago, may include:

  • Strategic planning of healthcare systems.
  • Business and healthcare ethics.
  • Business communication.
  • Managerial economics and statistics.
  • Marketing and operations management.

In addition to learning about the public health sector, HCMBA students gain soft skills in communication, data analysis and leadership to empower health managers to put their work to action in practical circumstances.

Deciding which degree is right for you

It should go without saying that both an MPH and an HCMBA are invaluable education paths for individuals looking to expand their knowledge and understanding of the public health industry. While the MPH and HCMBA have plenty of similarities, their differences are what should influence you to lean toward one degree or the other.

Students who would prefer to specialize primarily in public health may benefit from pursuing a Master of Public Health. On the other hand, those who want to gain valuable business acumen in relation to healthcare may profit from the coursework of a Healthcare Master of Business Administration. No matter which degree in public health you choose, you will gain insight and experience in healthcare that will transform your understanding of the industry.

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