I have a bachelor's degree in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics and an MBA from a AACSB accredited university. I have about four years of work experience in the field of healthcare management. I have worked in corporate (pharmaceutical) and government (health) sectors. I am interested to further my education to sharpen skills specific to healthcare management. Is it a right career choice to go for a second Master's degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)? or is it advisable to go for a Ph.D program in healthcare management? What would be the pluses and minuses of getting a second Master's degree (MHA) after MBA in terms of more employ-ability? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

  • What do you mean by more employ-ability? Industry or academia? If Academia, PhD is a must. If industry, I am not sure PhD is worth it. – scaaahu Feb 8 '14 at 5:16

Just some thoughts and hopefully others will provide more ideas for you. I am answering with the assumption that you're in the US.

First, I don't think a Master in HCM is going to be a good fit. These programs want to prepare workforce for the HCM but you have already done that with real experience under your belt. Unless their syllabus contains a good amount of materials that you absolutely want to learn, or you feel that you're lacking the theoretical base for a PhD, I wouldn't suggest that.

PhD program seems sensible. And I'd also suggest checking out programs such as DrPH (Doctoral in Public Health) degree which usually gears toward applied rather than theoretical. I believe a DrPH selection committee will value you more than a PhD committee does. Regardless, since you want to come back out and work rather than stay in academia, look for a large mix of applied components with perhaps 30-40% research training.

As employment potential... I guess that depends on what you want to be. But generally, if I am to read a resume of an HCM candidate, I'd value experience and knowledge in:

  • Program monitoring and evaluation
  • Health economics
  • Cost effectiveness analysis
  • Statistics, biostatistics, or econometrics
  • Qualitative methods
  • Leadership training and conflict management
  • Budgeting and management of organization
  • Grant writing and management

That should open up some doors. Save some credits to specialize (it's better to have a broad research/work interest and a focus one, because funding streams are different in these two levels.) For instance, if you want to work in some large hospital, you may add a couple courses (or summer training or capstone project) in clinical trail management and electronic medical record. If you want to serve more specific group such as undeserved Hispanic population in California, then you can add a couple more components in health equity, community participatory research, and coalition management.

I guess my ultimate confusion is that you have already worked in HCM for 4 years, which means you were/are employed. What prompted you to get more employ-able? What is that extra thing you want? If you want to advance to the management position, then I'd perhaps suggest checking what kind of degrees these people have, and perhaps talk to a couple seniors and mentors in your company.

Regardless, I'd suggest opting for a slower pace and complete your degree while keeping the job. The affordable health care act is going to be an experience and you should keep involved in the field while studying. Apply what you learn back to your office, make your company treasure you (or even invest more in you.) When the degree is done, and if you're not happy enough to stay, then consider leaving.

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