f you’re looking at a master’s degree in healthcare management, you’re making a great choice. Healthcare is one of the hottest employment fields right now, and management degrees are a good way to take advantage of career trends if you’re not interested in a clinical role. However, many students find themselves wondering: Can I be an effective manager without healthcare experience? Should I work in healthcare before enrolling in a healthcare management program? The answers to these questions depend on many factors.
Are You A Leader?
Nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers are smart, tenacious and unwilling to be bossed around by just anyone. If you want to be an effective manager, you’ll have to earn respect from your future employees. An easy way to get workers on your side is by understanding their position. If you worked as a nurse for five years, no one’s going to argue with your changes to clinical procedures. If you have no experience in the field, employees aren’t going to listen to you – unless you have a strong personality or you’ve managed in other fields. Take a look at the Fifty Most Powerful People in Healthcare, and you’ll see that most of them have significant clinical experience. Of course, administrators can be highly successful without a healthcare background; you’ll have to assess your own strengths as a leader before deciding if you need clinical training.
Are You A Good Student?
For many programs, experience in healthcare can add points to a weak application. If you have a low undergraduate GPA, a weak GRE score or a lack of professional and leadership experience, you may struggle to be accepted into a master’s in healthcare administration program. After working in healthcare for a year or more, you can build up relevant experience and increase the power of your personal statement so admission committees will look past your academic weaknesses. On the other hand, if you’re a strong candidate on paper, you might not need any healthcare work experience.
Paying for Graduate School
Obtaining your master’s degree will sharply increase your earning potential, but how will you pay for school before you graduate? Healthcare employers offer great benefits for employees pursuing advanced degrees. If you find a job in the healthcare field, you could get most of your administration degree paid for by your employer. You may have to stay with the same company for a few years, but you’ll graduate with experience and a low level of debt.
If you’re a strong candidate with good grades and great experience, you don’t need healthcare experience. However, getting a leg up won’t hurt anyone in today’s economy.