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Healthcare, Associate's

Many Associate's Degrees, especially those in healthcare-related subjects, are easily attained online – helping you to fit your studies around family or work commitments. At this degree level, there are normally two major courses to choose from: Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration. There is good earning potential for those who graduate, too, especially considering this degree can lead on to fulfilling careers in radiation therapy, registered nursing or dental hygiene. If you decide to study on a full-time basis, you could even complete your course in just six months.

Once you have enrolled, you begin by looking in detail at how the US healthcare system became what it is today. You also get a backstage insight into how treatment centers work on a daily basis, in terms of planning the course of treatment a patient will take, staff organization, and changes to protocol. As you'll quickly learn, the ability to problem solve is not something to be underestimated, as major time-sensitive dilemmas appear very frequently. If you don't end up treating patients directly, you may find yourself working behind the scenes, coordinating cases and assessing the risks of certain medical procedures.

Those who go on to study Healthcare Administration often find that the Associate's Degree is a crash course in using medical terminology. You need to know how to find, organize, update and manage medical records, have a solid understanding of human anatomy, and be well-versed in the procedures implemented during medical emergencies.

As you can glean from the descriptions above, there is plenty to learn and achieve from Associate's Degrees in Healthcare – a program which employers find to be a great asset.

Healthcare, Bachelor's

Medical school can be an immense financial burden, and this compels those who want to enter the healthcare profession to try and find other alternatives for their education. One such route could be taking a Bachelor's Degree, where there are two main branches of programs – Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management. Those who graduate often demand six-figure paychecks each year, according to Forbes – and other fast-paced roles like transplant coordination may bring a salary of up to $88,000.

Here is a brief summary of the course contents for a Bachelor Degree in Healthcare Administration:

  • The law and ethics surrounding healthcare delivery
  • The usage and development of systems which securely preserve patient data, and deliver information to practitioners
  • Case studies where healthcare services have been successfully or badly delivered in the US and internationally, as well as the lessons that can be learned
  • The interpretation of healthcare policy, and how trends change with different political administrations

On the other hand, Healthcare Management degrees focus on:

  • Why community-based health initiatives contribute to society
  • How to be compliant with healthcare regulation in the public and private sector
  • The personality traits needed to be an excellent leader, and how these theories translate into the workplace

It is possible to completely personalize your degree by choosing to major in a different field, whether it's IT systems, emergency management, or caring for the elderly and vulnerable. By looking around at universities in your region, attending open days and reading reviews from previous students, you have a better chance of making an informed decision.

Healthcare, Masters

Many of those who decide that they want to take a Masters Degree already have lucrative jobs in healthcare which carry a lot of responsibility. Subsequently, this makes carving out the time required for completing assessments, reading academic texts and attending lectures difficult. Thankfully, some of the nation's most-respected education institutions offer exceptional levels of flexibility, allowing you to complete your degree over a prolonged period of time.

As with courses at an undergraduate level, the two main branches of healthcare education are in administration and management. The first explores how to strike a balance between giving patients the best care possible within the budgets allotted, managing staff, and maximizing the use of technology in the workplace. Over the course of your Masters, you'll also be able to use your industry expertise to perform research into how problems can be solved, and processes can be streamlined in order to save time and money.

Those who pursue Healthcare Management will notice that the degree is comparable with an MBA for a specialist area, as it looks at the finances and entrepreneurial skills needed to make a healthcare institution work. You may also explore the marketing skills that are required to ensure treatment centers get good press, and that word of mouth about the facility spreads among patients.

The final step before you decide to apply is to check the university's credentials, just like they'll be checking yours. They should have secured accreditation by industry bodies, which may include the Commission on Accreditation Healthcare Management Education (CAHME for short).

Healthcare, Doctorate

For healthcare professionals, living in the moment is not a possibility. It's important to always be looking ahead – whether it's thinking about a patient's prospects in five years, or investing in infrastructure and research which could save lives in a decade. By choosing to study healthcare at a Doctorate level, you'll have the skill and knowledge to implement this forward thinking. What's more, there's also the chance to critically analyze policy and look at the working practices of medical institutions around the world.

Just like doctors have dozens of different specialties, those who study at Ph.D. level can choose to become experts in a particular niche of healthcare. This may include Health Services, which gives you hands-on experience in commissioning, performing and evaluating research. Graduates often find themselves working for major pharmaceutical firms and hospitals in a heartbeat – and play an instrumental role in helping their employer innovate and lead.

But you'll do more than work on research that gives your peers food for thought. You're also going to be tasked with making recommendations on how your findings can shape policy, and alter the way that patients are treated around the country.

Other areas you may consider at a Ph.D. level include the current systems used by healthcare insurers, and the reform that may be needed in the industry. You may also become an expert in assessing the competition that healthcare institutions face, and exploring the ways that they distinguish themselves from rivals.

Healthcare, Certificate/Diploma

Healthcare Certificates and Diplomas are taken by people of all competencies and ages, but many of these qualifications are focused on young adults who have just concluded high school. Accreditation can be the first step to joining the industry on an entry-level basis – whether that's working as an assistant in a care facility, or helping medical professionals with administrative affairs.

If you decide to complete a Certificate or Diploma online, it's comforting to know that there is normally a wealth of lectures and reading material on a secure website to help you revise for examinations and assessments. Oftentimes, your lecturers and peers are only a click away. Even though you may be distance learning, do remember that work experience often remains a course requirement, and this may involve some traveling to where a physical campus is based.

Other certificates would allow you to become an assistant in medical administration. This involves working in a healthcare office, typing up notes, updating records, and liaising with patients. Some of these programs involve an entrance exam to assess your suitability to the career. But as the pass rates can be as high as 75%, entry is by no means guaranteed, and preparation is essential to give you the best chances of acceptance.

Your personality and communication skills are nothing short of crucial when it comes to taking a certificate or diploma. After all, you're going to have to treat patients sensitivity and with passion, and make sure that you make them feel comfortable in what could be an unfamiliar environment.