Masters in Health Policy Information Guide

MastersInHealthPolicy is a site dedicated to creating useful tips and guides about health policy degrees. With rising medical costs and the aging of the population, healthcare is a hot topic these days. Going to school to get a master’s degree in health policy can help you become a leader in the healthcare revolution of the 21st century. Whether you wish to pursue a career in academia, government, or private lobbying organizations, a masters in healthcare policy will help open up many career doors.

Within the health policy field that are many categories including: personal health care policy, pharmaceutical policy, and policies related to public health such as vaccination policy, tobacco control policy, or breastfeeding promotion policies. Health policy professionals may even cover topics such as financing and the delivery of healthcare, access to healthcare, quality of healthcare, and health equity among all populations.

Walden University
MPA in Health Policy

Walden University -- Walden University offers an Master of Public Health (MPA) with a specialization in health policy. The foundational knowledge taught in the Master of Public Administration program is useful for working in the national, state or local level in any capacity. When combined with Health Policy, leaders are prepared to design and implement policies to help their communities receive the best healthcare possible.

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Kaplan University
Master of Public Health

Kaplan University -- Kaplan University's Master of Public Health program is designed to provide the skills necessary for effective leadership and management in government, nonprofit, and private businesses in the health industry. Courses cover how to apply scientific research, epidemiological, and statistical methods in public health practice, as well as how to develop policies and programs for your community.

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Definition of Masters in Health Policy

The term of health policy is defined by the World Health Organization as “decisions, plans, and actions that are undertaken to achieve specific healthcare goals within a society.” There are a variety of degree titles you can get for a master in health policy. These include: Master of Public Health (MPA), Master of Public Health (MPH) in Health Management and Policy, and a Master of Health Administration (MHA) in health policy.

An explicit health policy law can achieve several things: it defines a vision for the future which in turn helps to establish targets and points of reference for the short and medium term. It also outlines priorities and the expected roles of different groups; and it builds consensus and informs people.

Masters in Health Policy Areas of Focus

Health policy professionals are usually involved in influencing the decision of a government, private sector business, or other group to adopt a specific policy that will improve the healthcare system. Most believe in the philosophy that every human has a right to healthcare. Many professionals follow the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 25, which asserts that medical care is a right of all people: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself or herself and of his or her family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his or her control.”

Other professionals in the field find themselves consumed by the medical research aspect of health policy. Medical research can be both the basis for defining evidence-based health policy, and the subject of health policy itself. Some professionals are in favor of government policies for publicly funded medical research, while others opposed argue that these kind of funding remove the incentive to innovate healthcare, and overall inhibits new technologies from being developed and utilized. There are healthcare policy related professionals on both ends of the spectrum.

Health workforce policy is another area of focus for health policy. These are policies that are implemented to plan for adequate numbers, distribution and quality of healthcare workers to meet health care goals. A topic this area of health policy may address is the shortage of physicians and nurses in a certain specialization. Health in foreign policy involved governments and agencies that have a health dimension within their foreign policy in order to achieve global health goals. These policies may involve promoting health in lower income countries, promoting global security such as dealing with global pandemics, promoting global economic development, and promoting social justice.

Overall, no matter the area of focus, the modern concept of healthcare involves access to medical professionals from various fields as well as medical technology. This includes access to medications and surgical equipment, and access to the latest information and evidence from research, including medical research and health services research.

Potential Careers with a Masters in Health Policy

There are many opportunities for someone with a master’s degree in health policy, and often at a higher salary than one would get with only a bachelor’s degree. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for health policy professionals is $93,670. A few career options include:

  • Lobbyist: Organizations and companies need lobbyists to speak before congress and governmental officials to advocate for specific policies. Working as a lobbyist you would advocate for policies and convincing government officials to set up laws that benefit the health policies you, or your company, support. As a lobbyist you can earn up bonuses when you convince politicians to get on board with the policies you support.
  • Policy Analyst/Advisor: Policy analysts research the most effective approach to handling health of an organization. You would be doing things such as learning what coverage to give a corporation for its employees as well as finding the most cost-effective approach to treat patients while still providing the best possible care in a hospital or other healthcare area. You may also work in a research department as a policy analyst, working directly with medical professionals, patients, consumers, and more to compile stats and study how policy is really affecting others. A policy advisor than advises that organization in what plan they should take to implement their healthcare decisions and approaches.
  • Education and Training: In a health policy educator position you can educate people in schools and colleges, as well as neighborhood education centers. Being involved in education and training you can work for yourself as a consultant or you can work for a non-profit organization that follows your cause. Examples of organizations would be the National Breast Cancer Foundation, or organizations dedicated to AIDS or other diseases. You’re responsibilities would include teaching the basics of the problem, as well as providing materials for further information and discussion.

Salaries all depend on your specialty focus, your experience in the field, the type of organizations you work for, the size of the company you work for, how long you’ve worked for a company, the private or public sector of work, location of your work, and the type of work you’re involved in. Generally health policy workers aren’t paid as much as they’re worth, which leaves a shortage of these professional in developed and developing countries. Therefore it’s good to have a passion for this career and for improving the health of the public. As a rule of thumb the average salary range for the health care industry ranges from $41,349 all the way to $60,088 and above, all factors remaining constant.

Additional Resources

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: This website contains a simple list of positions openings and application procedures for this agency.
  • The American Public Health Association: The APHA offers “CareerMart Online” with a variety of services to members and some limited information to non-members. Through this website you can review job listings posted.
  • Center for Studying Health System Change: The mission of HSC is to inform policy makers and private decision makers about how local and national changes in the financing and delivery of health care affect people. HSC strives to provide high-quality, timely and objective research and analysis that leads to sound policy decisions, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of the American public. Their website has further information about health policy careers as well as job openings.
  • Families USA—The Voice for Healthcare Consumers: This is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Working at the national, state, and community levels, we have earned a national reputation as an effective voice for health care consumers for 25 years. Their website contains national on-line openings in the fields of human services and advocacy for social change, and subscription to their Health Action Network is free.
  • National Association of Health Data Organization: NAHDO is a none-profit membership organization dedicated to strengthening the nations health information system. There are health policy job postings on this website as well as further information about the health policy and data field.
  • Public Health Employment Connection: This website is through Emory University and offers a comprehensive job posting list for health policy job seekers.
  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research: The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research is one of the nation’s leading health policy research centers and the premier source of health policy information for California. They have many job listings posted on their website as well as further information about the health policy field.

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