Preparing for Healthcare Administration Jobs

The Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management establishes a new perspective on healthcare administration.

The Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management establishes a new perspective on healthcare administration.

Healthcare is a business that occupies a variety of settings. Whether healthcare services are provided in a patient’s home, a physician’s office, an urgent care center or a large city hospital, each setting requires careful management to ensure all aspects of the business run smoothly and efficiently — for both the provider and the patient. Although healthcare is delivered in diverse settings, many healthcare administration certificate programs typically only focus on preparing students for healthcare administration jobs in larger hospital settings. Thanks to a generous donor, Troy University is ready to change all that.

Dr. Judson Edwards, Dean and Associate Professor of Economics at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business, explains how the business school saw an opportunity to create a more diverse program.

“We didn’t want a traditional healthcare administration degree,” says Dr. Edwards. “We wanted to put a different perspective on it rather than just focusing on hospital administration. We wanted it to focus on more medical practices and related healthcare service operations.”

The opportunity to establish new perspectives on healthcare administration became a reality with the support of a prominent local healthcare professional who worked with TROY to create the Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management.

The Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management

The Sorrell College vision is supported by Dr. Marnix Heersink, founder of the Eye Center South and Health Center South facilities in the city of Dothan, where TROY also has a campus. Dr. Heersink’s family made a substantial financial donation to launch the Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management and to create an endowed scholarship for the new program.

“Dr. Heersink is a Dothan ophthalmologist, and his facilities play a huge role in the health service industry and the overall economy of Dothan,” says Dr. Edwards. “He was really concerned about the future workforce, and recognized the importance of business training for medical professionals and wanted to help TROY meet this need.”

What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration is the professional field relating to leadership, management and administration of public health systems, healthcare systems, hospitals and hospital networks.

According to Dr. Edwards, factors like government regulation, insurance and Medicaid reimbursements make healthcare a business like no other.

“Some of the basics of business, like managing people, project management and scheduling are the same,” says Dr. Edwards. “But when understanding the deeper aspects, like the financials of managing a healthcare business, it becomes quite complex. You have to deal with so much regulation, as well as risk assessments, and issues relating to insurance reimbursements. The healthcare industry is not as cut and dry as you would find in the more traditional business world.”

Despite all the regulations, healthcare remains an entrepreneurial and innovative industry.

“We talk about scarcity, supply and demand, marginal revenues and marginal costs, and all these foundational economic concepts,” says Dr. Edwards. “We are teaching these ideas to people who need to apply them in the healthcare service setting. Traditionally, those who choose work in healthcare don’t always consider the business aspect of their career choice because they are primarily motivated by serving others.”

Edwards explains that because the certificate covers complex topics including finance, healthcare management and healthcare economics. Students without a business or healthcare management degree have the ability to take the introduction to business course to aid in their preparation for the program.

Who Studies Healthcare Administration?

Dr. Edwards explains that the certificate program is open to anyone who wants to study this unique area of business.

“For example, nurses who need some good business training to progress in their careers would want to pursue this certification,” says Dr. Edwards. “They are already great practitioners, but to have the desire to take on additional responsibilities, such as managing nurses or other administrative tasks that require managerial skills. This program would be perfect to assist in that transition”

But not all students in the program come from within the healthcare sector.

“The certificate program is also attractive to people coming into healthcare directly from the business world and who need to learn more about the regulatory environment, insurance, etc.,” says Dr. Edwards. “So, it does work both ways.”

Brent Cavanias is a current student in the program. While he is not directly involved in providing healthcare services, he plays an important role in helping others access the healthcare they need.

Cavanias works as a firefighter with a large municipal fire department. He is currently assigned in a unique role where he is responsible for acting as a liaison between his department and the agency that administers their disability claims and benefits.

“It is a unique and interesting job that has exposed me to many aspects of the interface between government and the private healthcare industry,” says Cavanias. “Whether working with my firefighters or the agency that administers our workers’ comp program, there are people at the end of every issue and scenario who need help. They often look to me for expertise in navigating processes, policies and referrals to appropriate resources or information.”

Cavanias explains that he chose the certificate in healthcare management program at TROY because it created a unique opportunity for him with his current employer.

“It was something different,” says Cavanias. “It has offered me a new learning and development opportunity and would allow me to work with my entire workforce and our partner agency responsible for the workers’ comp-type program we fall under.”

While Cavanias has some experience with the topics covered by the certificate program, he is aware of the gaps in his knowledge that the program is helping to fill.

“I have significant program and personnel management experience, but there are areas that are lacking for me and that I have little or no experience in,” says Cavanias. “For example, Healthcare Economics was the first econ course I had ever taken. It was informative and practical in terms of understanding the economic issues that affect so many aspects of healthcare.”

Cavanias believes the certificate program will significantly enhance his credibility as an expert in the workplace.

“It is preparing me for my current work responsibilities,” says Cavanias. “I’m expected to be a subject matter expert when I am called to answer questions for advice on processes, programs or policies. This really builds on my body of knowledge and lends additional credibility to me in my current position.”

Cavanias highlights some of the complexities he regularly encounters in his work that the certificate is helping overcome.

“This is a real challenge for work-related injuries and occupational illness, where the goal is to return members to full duty as soon as possible,” says Cavanias. “Navigating provider networks for a job-related injury, which may differ from networks for individual insurance, can be challenging and frustrating. For example, some individuals may want a specific doctor they have a history with, but that doctor may not fall under the networks contracted for their job-related injury claims. Medical insurance, in general, can be challenging for some, but it can be compounded when required to use another network and administrative process you are unfamiliar with for a specific condition, injury or illness.”

Cavanias is also looking toward his future career advancement.

“I am contemplating future opportunities in various healthcare careers, such as working for a state or the federal Department of Veterans Affairs,” says Cavanias. “The TROY certificate provides graduate-level education coupled with real-world experience to make me a more desirable candidate for such opportunities.”

Flexible Learning

The Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management is comprised of four courses delivered online over 12 academic hours. For Cavanias, the availability of an online option meant that he was better able to balance his study around his busy professional and personal life.

“TROY Online has been a great experience for me,” says Cavanias. “I have taken online courses from other institutions, and TROY has been among the best for responsiveness and student outreach.”

The Heersink Family Foundation Scholarship

According to Cavanias, three factors influenced his decision to pursue the certificate program at TROY: the quality of the program, the convenience of online learning and the program’s cost.

As a veteran with a 27-year military career in the U.S. Army and Air Force, Cavanias could access military financial support to help pay for his education.

“I may not have pursued graduate-level education without this,” says Cavanias. “It makes a big difference in affordability.”

Students looking at options to fund their participation in the program can also apply for a scholarship funded by the Heersink Family.

Eager to promote local talent, the Heersink Family Foundation Scholarships are made available to students in the Dothan area who want to pursue a certificate in the program and who have an interest in healthcare administration in a private or non-public or non-hospital setting. The scholarship is a one-time, nonrenewable scholarship. Students can apply for the scholarship through the Troy University Foundation and Troy University Development Office.

“This is all part of Dr. Heersink’s desire to support and build the careers of healthcare professionals living and working in the Dothan community,” says Dr. Edwards. “Thanks to his generosity and vision, we have the ability to offer this needed program and provide scholarships to meet this critical need in our region, but also reach across the country as exemplified by Brent Cavanias.”

Opportunities: Jobs in Healthcare Management

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the prospects for healthcare professionals looking to progress into medical and health services management roles are good.

The median wage for medical and health service managers is $101,340 per year. The sector currently employs 429,800 people and is set to grow by 32% in the decade between 2020 and 2030, requiring an additional workforce of 139,600 employees.

This is an opportunity Cavanias recognized when enrolling in the program.

“Formal education in management and leadership will always better prepare individuals for leadership positions, particularly when paired with real-world experience,” says Cavanias. “Based on the state of healthcare in America, I think this program is very relevant. This program would benefit people working in a range of disciplines in the healthcare industry, and I would recommend it to others seeking graduate-level education and career advancement opportunities.”


As an undergraduate alumnus of TROY and with a 16-year tenure as a professor (12 of those years as a dean), Dr. Edwards has a unique and detailed perspective on why healthcare professionals should consider the university for their graduate education. Quality, he says, is the first consideration and it is assured for students who study in the Sorrell College of Business.

“We are AACSB-accredited in both business and accounting, which places us in an elite group of less than 200 universities globally. It is truly the gold standard of quality and recognized as such throughout the world,” says Dr. Edwards.

“Our faculty are not just theoretical-oriented,” says Dr. Edwards. “They have practical work experience, and that’s a critical part of what we do in this program. To teach healthcare management, faculty must have professional experience, which allows them to connect with students by sharing about their industry experiences. This makes a big difference in the learning environment. “

Learn More About Health Services Management

To learn more about how the Heersink Family Graduate Certificate Program in Health Services Management and the Heersink Family Foundation Scholarships can help professionals progress in their careers and access administrative and managerial opportunities across healthcare settings, visit the program page on our website.