Long-term health administration has become an important career option in the healthcare management field over the past two decades. Traditionally, most health administration professionals were trained to manage operations for hospital health systems, health informatics programs, health insurance companies and physician groups. Factors, however, such as a rise in the over-65 age group and their need for on-going medical care, have resulted in higher demand for professionals who understand the specific needs of supervising long-term care facilities, agencies and programs, according to an article published by CSU Long Beach. As a result, more health management degree programs now offer choices for career specializations as long-term healthcare administrators.

Populations and Settings Served by Long-term Health Administration Programs

Long-term health administration specifically involves the management of programs that provide continuous care and support services for patients and families. Patient groups include those of any age with disability conditions that affect daily living, senior citizens with chronic physical or mental impairments, and individuals with progressive conditions related to cognitive decline or terminal illnesses. Long-term care services exist in multiple community settings including nursing homes, assisted living residences, rehabilitation centers and hospice units. In some cases, long-term care can be implemented in the patient's home by professional staff overseen by home healthcare agencies or hospice providers.

Job Expectations for Long-term Health Administrators

Health administrators who manage long-term care programs are expected to maintain high standards of quality in the provision of patient care services. They should be able to effectively supervise personnel, responsibly allocate resources and ensure that healthcare systems operate efficiently. Additionally, professionals in this field require exceptional communication skills enabling them to compassionately interact with affected individuals and families about the physical, mental and emotional impacts of long-term conditions that significantly alter daily living experiences.

Educational Foundations for Long-term Health Administration Degrees

In the past, degrees in healthcare management may have offered a specialization in long-term care at the graduate level, but there were few courses dedicated to the subject in general healthcare studies. Today's programs, however, include much more education and training in long-term health administration. Curriculum standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional certification have been developed by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, the Commission on Accreditation of Health Management Education, and the National Association of Boards of Examiners of Long-Term Care Administrators. These standards prepare degree-seekers in the field with the skills to gain competitive employment in long-term health administration careers, to meet state licensing regulations, or to comply with continuing education requirements for re-certification. Examples of topics students might study include the following:

  • Dementia conditions, disabilities, progressive diseases and terminal illnesses
  • Mental, social and physical health in aging populations
  • Gerontology and pharmacology
  • Palliative care, hospice and end of life decisions
  • Counseling families and caregivers
  • Human resource management and staff training
  • Financial management and Medicare provisions
  • Legal and ethical aspects governing long-term care regulations
  • Collaboration with mental health professionals, social workers, hospice personnel, nursing staff, pastoral care providers and financial advisers

Related Resource: Jobs in Healthcare Economics

Graduates with a bachelor's in long-term care management can expect to find entry-level positions in an expanding job market through at least 2022. Additionally, career professionals can expect to earn a median salary of $88,580 annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those with the right credentials, a career in long-term health administration can be a fulfilling and sustainable occupation.