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The purpose of this article is to describe what a doctor of health administration is, the subject matter covered, courses taken, and why earning one may be a wise choice for your career. The article also details a high quality, online doctor of health administration program that is available.

What Is a Doctor of Health Administration?

A doctor of health administration or DHA is a doctoral degree that provides you with the high level skills and knowledge required to be a healthcare organization leader. This four to six year degree program is intended to shape dynamic, professional leaders who are able to shape the future of healthcare in America and abroad.

Most graduates of doctor of health administration programs assume high leadership roles in universities, colleges, public policy, and healthcare organizations and systems.

The typical DHA program offers students advanced learning in the leadership of healthcare. The program will train you as a leader in education, management and clinical areas so that you can implement productive changes in a variety of healthcare environments. A DHA program will prepare you to work at executive and director positions in healthcare organizations and in academia.

Most applicants to this doctoral program already have a master’s degree in health administration or a closely related field. Some may have a master’s in information technology.

A doctor of health administration program will require you to learn about health organization leadership. You will learn about the methods that generate value, growth and advantages in healthcare organizations. Expect to be introduced to advanced analytical concepts, techniques and frameworks that will help you to lead the way for positive changes in your organization. You also will study the foundations of health policy, as well as the political, legal and economic issues that affect the healthcare delivery system.

Most doctor of health administration programs also will have classes on safety, healthcare quality and process improvement efforts. Strategic change management also is a key feature because doctoral graduates need to have a good understanding of resource allocation, planning, program evaluation and process implementation. Being well verse in current accreditation and licensure trends also will ready graduates to handle ethical and legal issues that healthcare administrators must handle daily.

A sample curriculum that you might see in this type of doctoral program includes these types of classes:

  • Building a Multidisciplinary Approach to Health
  • Healthcare Administration Leaders
  • Research Theory, Design, and Methods
  • Health Leadership and Systems Thinking
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
  • Global Health and Issues in Disease Prevention
  • Project and Resource Management in Integrated Systems
  • Advanced Application of Practice-Based Research in Health
  • Healthcare Quality Management
  • Governance, Law, and Policy for Healthcare Leaders
  • Trends and Issues in Executive-Level Management for Healthcare Administrators

Note that most universities will have tracks for students who already have their master of health administration, and another for students with a master’s in another field. Students who have a master’s in another field will be required to take several healthcare administration background courses to prepare for the rigor of the doctoral program.

Why Earn a Doctor of Health Administration?

Professionals who earn their doctorate in this field have an excellent opportunity to move into healthcare leadership. Doctoral degree graduates have the ability to play a very important and necessary role to direct how hospitals, doctor’s offices and nursing homes work. They also have the chance to set policy that will improve patient outcomes and set a positive example for others in the organization.

Earning your DHA also provides you with greater job security. You will be a key member of the management team for a variety of healthcare or academic organizations.

Another good reason to earn a doctor of health administration is because of the strong, growing need for health administration professionals to plan, direct and coordinate medical and healthcare services for most types of healthcare entities today.

Healthcare administrators and healthcare executives are needed today to provide excellent management of healthcare facilities, clinical departments, and often large medical practices.

Healthcare administrators with a high level of education should experience a high level of job demand in the coming decade. As the baby boom population moves into their retirement years, and people stay active for longer, it is believed the healthcare industry will see more demand for medical services.

The increased demand naturally is creating more need for healthcare workers, medical procedures and healthcare facilities. Thus, there is more need for highly skilled managers who can organize medical information, policies and healthcare staff.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that job growth for healthcare administrators will be approximately 17% by 2024. Pay for healthcare administrators is a solid $96,500 as of May 2016. Those with the most experience and education can earn as much as $172,000 per year.

Online Option for Doctor of Health Administration

A.T. Still University

The doctoral program at A.T. Still University or ATSU will prepare the healthcare professional to become an innovative leader and solver of problems in the healthcare industry. This program blends a theoretical and practical education, and the coursework of this program will provide you with the knowledge needed to transform your healthcare administration program.

This program has been designed to integrate a business education that offers current healthcare professionals with the advanced strategies in business that they need to succeed even more in healthcare.

This is a 76 credit hour program with 14 core classes. Also required is a competency examination and a dissertation at the conclusion of the program. The program offers students access industry professionals as well as highly experienced and talented faculty who are leaders of their respective fields.

Required courses in this four year doctoral program are:

  • Leadership and Ethics
  • Coaching, Mentoring, and Interpersonal Communications
  • Research Methods I
  • Population Health
  • Quality Improvement/Performance Excellence
  • Health Policy, Law and Regulation
  • Research Methods II
  • Negotiation, Mediation and Managing Conflict
  • Healthcare Economics and Financial Management
  • Healthcare Organization Informatics
  • Research Methods III
  • Health Organization Governance

Some of the career paths that previous graduates have taken include:

  • Health educator for a federal agency
  • Health educator for a nonprofit organization
  • Professor of health education
  • Health policy adviser
  • Grant funding manager
  • Health education manager
  • Public health information officer

Summary

Earning one’s doctor of health administration is a proven way to accelerate your healthcare administration career. Whether you choose to work in academia or for a healthcare entity, you will have the skills and knowledge to provide principled leadership in healthcare administration and management.

Additional Resources

References

Sady Brown
Written by Sady Brown
Sady Brown is Editorial Strategist for Nogre.com