LLU School of Public Health students during graduation ceremonies, June 2017 [photo by James Ponder]

The Loma Linda University School of Public Health recently announced that it will transition its popular master of business administration degree program to a master of healthcare administration degree beginning in the summer of 2018.

Helen Hopp Marshak, PhD, dean of the school, said the decision was made in order to better align the focus around the central goals and themes of a health sciences university and medical center.

“In reevaluating the MBA program, it was determined that an MHA degree would be in better alignment with the focus on the future of health and healthcare within our university,” Marshak said, noting that MBA degrees are generally pursued by individuals interested in business management, who may not want a career in healthcare.

Elisa Blethen, MBA, assistant professor and director of the program, said the MHA curriculum will prepare students for managerial careers in hospitals, healthcare organizations, public health or consulting. “The MHA degree is good for someone with career goals in health care who would like to make an impact in the field without becoming a doctor, nurse or other clinical professional,” she said.

She noted that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 17-percent growth rate for jobs as healthcare managers by the year 2024, and said the MHA degree allows for a clearer platform for LLU graduates competing for fellowships and jobs in healthcare management after graduation.

Once the program change becomes effective in the summer of 2018, Blethen said the curriculum will include further integration of population health, data analytics and related areas to enhance the focus on the business and management of healthcare.

Blethen said students currently enrolled in the MBA degree program will gain the degree they were accepted into according to the admissions catalog under which they enrolled. She also said that a path has been created for students active in the MBA degree program during the summer of 2018 to transition to the MHA degree program if they wish.

“We are very excited to offer this degree,” Blethen said. “We feel it has serious potential to help our graduates meet the growing demands of the field far into the future.”