Did you know UAF now offers a graduate program in healthcare management?

August 15, 2023

Starting this fall, the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Business and Security Management (CBSM) is set to offer online graduate courses in healthcare management and leadership. Curriculum topics include healthcare law and ethics, information systems and decision-making in health services, the economics of healthcare delivery, and more.

What is it? The Master in Healthcare Management and Leadership (MHML) aims to equip students for leadership roles across the U.S. healthcare sector, including pharmaceuticals, consulting, medical devices, hospital systems, insurance, non-profits, and government agencies. The program offers students hands-on experience working with local health service organizations to help solve complex problems. 

Driving the action: Over the next decade, Alaska anticipates a 7.7% job increase in healthcare occupations, while the U.S. anticipates a 31.5% rise, according to Hanover Academic Program Assessment's analysis. Around 45,000 healthcare management/leadership-related jobs were advertised in the Western U.S. in the latter half of 2021, primarily by healthcare systems and insurers. Although many positions require a bachelor's degree, 14.2% required a master's or higher. This program was added to the College of Business and Security Management to provide the master’s level training required for these positions.

Vision: The UA Board of Regents approved the program in its May meeting. During the program approval discussion, Regent Karen Purdue said she envisions mid-career professionals transitioning into a wide range of healthcare roles through this program. 

The big picture: The program targets the growing demand for medical and health services managers due to the aging baby-boomer population. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for healthcare leadership. The fully online program accommodates nontraditional, working, and remote students, meeting them where they are in life, location and career path

A Unique Offering: Notably, the University of Alaska Fairbanks stands alone in the Pacific/Mountain West U.S. regions in providing a fully online Masters in Healthcare Administration. This distinctive position enables the university to meet the regional demand for quality online healthcare administration education.

Insights from the Director:  Career opportunities are expanding into other commercial sectors, as corporations such as Apple need to collaborate with medical providers for new technologies like the Apple Watch. Across many industries, the imperative for specialized knowledge in healthcare is becoming more pronounced.

Arena del Mar Morillo-Herrin, the MHML instructor and program director, notes that the program's collaboration with local organizations for semester-long projects addresses real-world challenges and provides invaluable hands-on experience. The program's advisory board, comprised of major health service organizations in Fairbanks, ensures that the curriculum stays aligned with the ever-changing industry requirements.”

Addressing Alaska’s unique challenges: Given Alaska's distinctive healthcare delivery challenges due to its remote and dispersed population, the program's focus on rural healthcare in its second year is a vital distinction. This approach caters to the demand for healthcare administration professionals in rural Alaska.

For more information about the healthcare management and leadership program, visit CBSM's website or contact instructor Arena Morillo-Herrin at admorilloherrin@alaska.edu.