Career Progression of Graduates of a Bachelor’s
Degree Program in Health Services Administration
April Temple, Ph.D., LNHA, Assistant Professor
Health Services Administration Program
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Introduction
The demand for health services managers is
projected to grow by 22% by 2020 (Bureau of
Labor Statistics, 2013). Undergraduate programs in
health services administration are a critical source
of talent to fill the expanding need for health
services managers. While AUPHA has over 45
certified undergraduate programs presently,
there is only limited discussion in the literature
about the job settings and career tracks of
graduates of B.S. degree programs.
Purpose
This research addresses the early career
experiences of 2004-2011 graduates of an
undergraduate health services administration
program. We profile employment by
organizational setting and describe the career
progression of graduates by examining
employment patterns of graduates within the
same setting, within the same sector, and across
sectors.
Methods
In 2012, we surveyed 2004-2011 graduates of our
program using an online survey administered by
Qualtrics. A total of153 graduates completed the
survey, which was a 70% response rate. The survey
included questions related to graduates’
demographics, current employment setting and
position, career history by setting and position,
length of time in positions, annual salary
information for all positions, and graduate school
attendance and/or completion. We also
included questions on perceptions of coursework,
overall satisfaction, and overall preparation for
career. All study procedures were approved by
our university’s IRB.
Jon M. Thompson, Ph.D., Professor & Director
Health Services Administration Program
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Examples of Career Progression
Results
Findings show that graduates are presently working in hospitals and
health systems (34%), long-term care (11%), consulting (11%), and
suppliers (7%), among other settings. More importantly, we profile
the career progression of graduates using a three part analytic
framework: 1) progression within the same setting; 2) progression
within the same sector; and 3) progression across sectors.
Graduates reported an average of 1.4 years working in their first
position. Sixty-nine percent of respondents had more than one
position, and 16% had four positions. The mean current salary was
$57,261, with mean salaries among employment sectors ranging
from $112,500 in insurance/managed care to $39,667 in
associations. Respondents reported salary increases between their
first and last positions. Salary change was the highest for
respondents whose career progressed across sectors; the mean
salary increase for this group was $38,683. Overall, within the
reporting period, graduates have demonstrated changes in
positions and responsibilities, along with increases in compensation.
Table 1. Characteristics of Alumni (n = 153)
Table 2. Current Salary of Alumni (n = 132)
Years post-graduation
Gender
Male
Female
Race/Ethnicity
Caucasian
African American
Hispanic
Asian
Other
Completed/enrolled in graduate courses
Completed graduate degree
Employment status
Employed full-time
Employed part-time
Not employed, looking for work
Not employed, not looking for work
4
25%
75%
84%
5%
2%
6%
3%
32%
17%
90%
3%
1%
0%
M (SD)
Current annual salary [range: 18,000-160,000]
Current salary by organizational setting
Hospital/hospital system (n = 47)
Physician practice/group practice (n = 7)
Ambulatory clinic/surgery center (n = 5)
Long-term care (n = 13)
Consulting firm (n = 16)
Accreditation/licensing organization (n = 9)
Managed care organization/insurer (n = 2)
Public health program/department (n = 1)
Pharmaceutical/medical supplier/IT company (n = 8)
Association (n = 3)
Other (n = 21)
Figure 1. Percent Employed by Organizational Setting (n=153)
57,261 (26,460)
51,095 (19,358)
60,411 (38,361)
60,000 (15,716)
58,676 (18,066)
59,375 (19,933)
58,778 (13,179)
112,500 (67,175)
41,000 (N/A)
93,583 (13,614)
39,667 (8,963)
47,633 (22,174)
SAME SETTING
Setting
Position 1
Position 2
Hospital
Manager Performance
Improvement
Director Clinical Business
Operations
Nursing Home
AIT
Director of Resident Services
Insurer
Sales Administration Senior
Associate
Sales Administration Analyst
Hospital
Management Analyst
Project Manager
Pharmaceutical
Customer Pricing Coordinator
Customer Pricing Analyst
Associate
Consulting Firm Analyst
Position 3
Total Years
First Salary
Last Salary
Salary Change
3
$60,000
$70,000
$10,000
Assistant Administrator
1.99
$18,000
$57,000
$39,000
Senior Account Manager
5.8
$40,000
$160,000
$120,000
4
$41,500
$48,500
$7,000
Projects/Pricing Analyst
3
$31,200
$42,000
$10,800
Senior Associate
9
$43,000
$93,000
$50,000
SAME SECTOR
Position 1/Setting
Position 2/Setting
Executive Assistant/Academic Health System
Office coordinator/Academic Health Manager/Health System
System
Interim Administrator/SNF
Administrator of Health
Services/CCRC
Patient Services
Clinical Operations
Supervisor/Hospital
Manager/Outpatient Center
Planning Analyst/Hospital System
Business Office Manager/SNF
Patient Services Rep/Hospital
Quality Integration and Improvement Metrics
Analyst/Hospital
Front Office-Billing/Physical Therapy Center
Health Research Analyst/Information Technology
Company
Office Manager/Physical Therapy
Center
Associate/Consulting Firm
Position 3/Setting
Total Years First
Last
Salary
Salary
Salary
Change
5
$38,000 $49,000
$11,000
Office Manager/Physician Practice
Senior Associate/Consulting Firm
4.5
$40,000 $81,000
$41,000
2.95
$33,000 $52,000
$19,000
1.5
$42,700 $45,000
$2,300
7
$20,800 $47,500
$26,700
6.8
$49,000 $70,000
$21,000
ACROSS SECTORS
Position 1/Setting
Position 2/Setting
Position 3/Setting
Patient Financial
Representative/Physician Practice
Health Planner/Community Health
Organization
Data Analyst/Academic Medical
Center
Financial Analyst/Group Purchasing
Organization
Credentialing Coordinator/Hospital
Business Office Representative/Physician
Practice
Pharmacy Analyst/Hospital
Staff Consultant/Consulting Firm
First Salary Last
Salary Change
Salary
3
$25,000 $40,000
$15,000
Financial Analyst/Hospital
5
$30,000
$69,000
$39,000
Analyst/Consulting Firm
Account Manager/Consulting
Firm
Senior Analyst/Health System
5
$40,000 $140,000
$100,000
5
$45,000
$85,000
$40,000
Assistant Manager/Practice Mgmt
Comp
3
$42,000
$55,000
$13,000
Proposal Analyst/Managed Care
Healthcare Rep/Pharmaceutical
6.5
$32,000
$66,000
$34,000
Contract Manager/Supply Chain Outsource Hospital
Credentialing Assistant/Insurer
Total Years
Conclusions
This research adds to the knowledge base of
employment and career progression for baccalaureate
graduates of healthcare management programs, which
has not been fully addressed in the literature. Graduates
of our program have been successful in securing entrylevel positions as well as advancing in their careers in
three ways: progression within the same setting,
progression within the same sector, and progression
across sectors. Most interesting is the fact that career
progression has occurred in a period of a declining
national economy, which supports the view that
healthcare management has been a robust source of
opportunities.
Contact: April Temple, Ph.D., LNHA. Email: [email protected]
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