Healthcare Administration: Preparing students for jobs in an expanding industry

Southern Arkansas University’s new Healthcare Administration major will prepare students to work in various professional positions in the medical field, aiding doctors, nurses, and other specialists in healthcare delivery. It is offered through the David F. Rankin College of Business.

“The healthcare industry is expanding, and we see this as an opportunity to support that growth,” said Dr. Robin Sronce, Peoples Bank Dean of the College of Business. “It fits well with SAU’s nursing, pre-health, and public health degrees. Students who want to be part of the healthcare industry might not realize the opportunities available that support and enable healthcare delivery.”

The program, to be delivered in-person and online, will prepare students to lead people, teams, and departments in facilities large and small. They will be able to run these organizations effectively while being mindful of patients, employees, and the larger community.

“Many of our graduates working in the healthcare industry encouraged us to prepare students for this growing area,” Sronce continued. “In designing the program, we worked with experienced professionals to ensure we balanced the need for business expertise with an awareness of people in the system.”

The program will utilize existing business and public health courses while adding four new classes. One online course will be taught by Dr. Karen Landry, Embree Chair/Department of Nursing, “Our faculty has expertise, and we will look to practitioners for additional support,” Sronce said. The College of Business plans to partner with a hospital system for internships.

Administrative positions in doctor’s offices, clinics and long-term care facilities could be as close as Magnolia, El Dorado, and Camden. Data positions in health information management, patient accounts support and IT application support, as well as human resources, home health care administration and insurance underwriting, are options in Shreveport, Dallas, Little Rock, Hot Springs, and Northwest Arkansas. “We are already seeing our graduates employed in these areas,” Sronce said.

Kile Pletcher, a 2018 graduate of SAU, put his degree in finance to work in a medical setting. “I always had an interest in the healthcare field, but decided to go the business route,” he said.

In 2019, Pletcher went to work as a financial analyst at Baptist Health thanks to skills he learned as a business major. “SAU did a phenomenal job in giving me the tools I needed to take on a multitude of tasks,” he explained. “I did not realize how simple a skill as Excel proficiency would help me in my job every day.”

SAU also taught Pletcher how to acquire new skills quickly and deliver professional presentations, both of which are essential in the medical setting.

“It is extremely exciting that SAU is launching this new program,” Pletcher shared. “It is definitely something I would have been interested in as an undergraduate.” Having an understanding of the different types of jobs and skills needed to advance toward an administrative career will be invaluable to students, he shared.

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