If you’re considering a career in health administration in Kentucky, the outlook is bright. Major universities in the Bluegrass State offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field, and private and public healthcare companies are among the state’s major employers.

Salary Overview

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Nationally, the demand for health administrators is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2016-2026, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is much faster than average job growth. The field is expected to increase by more than 72,000 such jobs over the decade. The 2017 median pay was $98,350 annually, or $47.29 per hour.

The 2014 Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (KEWDC) states that the average salary for a healthcare administrator in the state was $88,756, with experienced administrators earning 2.65 times as much as entry-level administrators. The KEWDC found that average salaries were highest in northern Kentucky, at $100,679, and lowest in Eastern Kentucky, at $73,372. The areas with the highest number of jobs in the sector was led by Louisville, with 1,440, while the Elizabethtown area had the lowest number of jobs, at just 90.

Undergraduate Program Overview

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Several undergraduate degrees in Kentucky relate to health administration. These include a bachelor’s in health administration, a bachelor’s of science in healthcare administration, a bachelor’s of science in healthcare management and a bachelor’s in business administration.

The University of Kentucky offers a bachelor’s degree in clinical management and leadership, which “prepares graduates for leadership and managerial responsibilities in various health care settings,” and serves as a bridge to graduate studies, according to the school. There are two tracks for the program, with Track A designed for healthcare professionals who have earned an associate’s degree, and Track B for entry-level freshmen.

The University of Louisville offers an online bachelor of science degree in Organizational Leadership and Learning with a focus on Healthcare Leadership. This program is designed for those with experience in the healthcare field, but do not have the right credentials for organizational promotion, management or leadership positions or increased pay. Students may earn up to 48 college credits (tuition-free) for work and life experiences through the Prior Learning Assessment plan, which saves time and money for eligible applicants.

Louisville-based Sullivan University offers an online and on-campus business degree with a healthcare management concentration. In addition to gaining a well-rounded business operations understanding, focusing on accounting, business law, management, ethics, economics, information systems and marketing, courses are specifically geared to the healthcare sector.

Campbellsville University offers a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management through its Porter-Bouvette School of Business and Economics. The program includes courses in accounting, finance, statistics, marketing and microcomputer applications, as well as health services management, health policy and healthcare administration ethics. A professional internship is required for graduation.

Western Kentucky University offers a bachelor of science in health care administration. Graduates of this program have a business foundation in accounting, management, finance, economics, personnel management and health care administration and related areas pertaining to health. Students can obtain a National Association of Long-term Care Administrator Board (NAB) accredited degree by completing the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration with Long Term Care Certificate Program and the NAB Accredited HCA with LTCA Internship Guidelines.

Midway University offers an undergraduate major in health care administration. The major course requirements include health care economics, ethics, management information systems, health careers, health care policy, financial management of health care organizations, medical staff organization, legal issues in health care, health insurance claims management and health and medical care delivery systems. This is in addition to general business courses in accounting, application software, marketing, management, microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Graduate Program Overview

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The University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health offers a Master of Health Administration, with dual degree options in Master of Health Administration/Master of Public Health and Master of Health Administration/Juris Doctor. The Graduate Record Exam and the Graduate Management Admission Test are required for application. Currently, the estimated cost for each academic year is $12,726 for in-state residents and $30,224 for out of state residents. The University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges; Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education and the Council on Education for Public Health.

The University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS) offers a Master of Science in Health Administration degree. Courses are offered four days a week in the downtown Louisville campus after 4 p.m. to accommodate working students. SPHIS is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health and is in “candidacy” status with the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, the accrediting body for U.S. graduate programs in health management.

The University of Louisville offers a Ph.D. in Public Health Sciences in Health Management and Policy. Applicants must have completed a master’s degree in public health or a relevant health professional degree for consideration for admission to the program. Documentation for admission includes a recent CV, an official transcript for all degrees earned, an official GRE score, three letters of recommendation from individuals with direct knowledge of the applicant’s professional or academic experience, a one-page personal statement regarding professional experience and an admission interview by the PhD. Committee.

Western Kentucky University’s Master of Health Administration Graduate Program prepares students for management and administrative positions in various types of health care facilities and organizations, including hospitals, HMOs, group medical practices, nursing homes, clinics and public health agencies. In addition, graduates may find work in health planning agencies, medical sales companies, health insurance companies and related health organizations. The program is a full member of the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA). The school also offers an online Executive Master of Health Administration program designed to meet the schedules of healthcare executives, requiring just three classroom visits annually which occur on designated weekends in summer. The rest of the program is completed online. Applicants with more than five years’ experience in the field who otherwise meet the school’s admission criteria in their application for the MHA program are qualified for admission and do not have to take the GRE. Those applicants with less than five years’ experience in healthcare may have to go through an interview process, which are conducted on a case-by-case basis for an admission decision.

Job Prospects for Kentucky

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A snapshot of healthcare administrator job posting for July, 2018 include the position of Director of Healthcare Administration for the Center for Courageous Kids; Clinical Manager for Amedisys Home Health Services; Healthcare administrator at Brookdale Senior Living; Patient Services Coordinator at the University of Kentucky; Director, Clinical Operations and Implementation at Evolent Health; Staffing manager at Healthcare Recruiting and Market Supervisor for Clinical Resources at Catholic Health Initiatives.

Largest Employers of Health Administration Professionals in Kentucky

Louisville is the prime area for health administration professional employment in the state. Major healthcare employers include Humana, Inc., a $54.38 billion health insurance and related services company; Kindred Healthcare, Inc., a $7.2 billion health services company operating hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and contracted rehabilitation services; PharMerica Corp., a $2.09 billion company providing pharmacy services for healthcare facilities; Almost Family, Inc., a $623 million regional company providing home healthcare services. Other major Louisville employers include health care providers Norton Healthcare; Baptist Healthcare Systems, Inc.; Kentucky OneHealth, Inc.; Signature Healthcare and ResCare, Inc., which provides home healthcare. Centerstone Kentucky provides mental healthcare services.

Health Administrator Associations for Kentucky

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Healthcare administrators in Kentucky can join various professional organizations dedicated to the furtherance of career advancement and care improvement.

Health administrator associations for Kentucky include the Kentucky Health Care Foundation, whose purpose and mission is “enhancing quality care in the long term care continuum through research, educational opportunities, innovation and partnerships, as supported by charitable contributions." A major Foundation goal is attracting high quality employees for state facilities to provide long-term, top quality care. To date, the Foundation has awarded 107 scholarships toward this end, totaling almost $183,000. Scholarships are awarded to employees of member facilities.

The Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities is the trade association representing propriety and nonproprietary nursing facilities and personal care homes across the state. It was established in 1998 to “address the growing workplace and educational needs of long term care professionals. The purpose and mission of KHCF is to enhance quality care in the long-term care continuum through research, education, innovation and partnerships, as supported by charitable contributions.”

The Kentucky Chapter of the Healthcare Management Financial Association’s vision is “to be an indispensable professional resource for healthcare financial managers by helping members and other finance related healthcare professionals excel, thereby improving the business performance of organizations operating in or serving the healthcare industry.”

The Kentucky Association for Healthcare Quality, Inc.’s mission is promoting the “growth and development of healthcare professionals participating in Performance Improvement throughout the continuum of care.” The KAHQ offers members networking opportunities with fellow professionals throughout the state, educational opportunities on current topics, continuing education hours at discounted rates and preparation courses for Healthcare Quality Certification (CPHQ) testing, held within Kentucky. KAHQ consists of four regional groups, located in the Bluegrass, Eastern, Western and Metropolitan areas.

Next Steps

Kentucky has a lot of options for healthcare administrators, from education options to job prospects post-graduation. If you are looking for a solid career where you will have an impact on the present and future of healthcare, then administration is for you.