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Why Get a PhD in Health Administration?

by Dr. Mary Dowd

A Doctor of Philosophy in health administration is a research-oriented degree leading to high-level career opportunities. Working in universities, hospitals, government agencies and health care institutes, health administrators promote quality healthcare and accessibility. The Princeton Review, a testing-preparation company, indicates that a master’s degree in health is generally sufficient for hire as a healthcare administrator, whereas a doctorate offers additional opportunities to work in teaching, research, consulting and policy analysis.

Societal Contribution

Expertise in health administration enables you to find solutions to major public health problems. Skills acquired in a doctoral program prepare you to collect and analyze the type of data needed by business and government leaders to inform their decisions about public healthcare. For instance, students in the Ph.D. in health and public policy program at John Hopkins University learn how research shapes policies and practices related to community health, environmental safety and occupational health.

Research Opportunities

Pursuing a Ph.D. provides an opportunity to delve deeply into topics of special importance to you. As a doctoral student, you are likely towork closely with faculty mentors who enjoin you in cutting-edge research projects that apply theories discussed in class. Faculty and doctoral students often jointly present research findings at national conferences. At schools such as Virginia Commonwealth University, doctoral students and faculty have collaborated on research studies that have been reported in Health Care Management Review and other respected publications in the health care profession.

Influential Job

Many important and intellectually-stimulating health administration jobs can be found in academia, government and the private sector. For instance, University of Minnesota graduates of the health services, research, policy administration Ph.D. program work as college professors, data analysts, research directors, consultants, project managers, health care administrators and national policy advisers. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reports that over 50 percent of their Ph.D. health policy and management graduates are employed at leading research universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Brown and Tulane University.

Personal Fulfillment

The process of completing doctoral classes, conducting research, writing a dissertation and passing comprehensive examinations can be exhausting. Nonetheless, the time and expense of a Ph.D. can be worthwhile if you’re driven by the challenge of pursuing a doctorate and know how you intend to use it, as suggested by the American College of Healthcare Executives organization. According to Peterson’s, an education company, only one percent of the American population holds a Ph.D., making it a special distinction.

About the Author

Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her 20 years of higher education experience, she has taught classes, served as interim dean of students, and worked in many areas of student affairs, including student discipline, career advising, orientation and violence prevention.

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