Assisted Living Administrative Training and Education Programs
Get the facts about undergraduate and graduate assisted living administration programs. Read on to learn about program requirements and common courses, as well as certification requirements and career options.
There are many associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs that can prepare students for careers in assisted living administration. They include training in healthcare finance, budgeting, staffing, healthcare management and legal issues in long-term care. Undergraduate programs may offer specific instruction in assisted living administration, while master's degree programs may be more broad, focusing on advanced health management methods and research. Some master's programs offer scheduling flexibility through online or weekend coursework.
In most cases, individuals who hold at least a bachelor's degree in the field can take the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) certification exam, the passing of which is mandatory for nursing home administrators in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There may be other requirements as well; they vary by state.
Associate's Degree in Assisted Living Administration
With an associate's degree in assisted living or long term care administration, individuals are typically prepared to assume organizational and leadership duties involved in the operations of a long term care facility. Some of these tasks can include administration of budgets and regulatory changes, supervision of employees and monitoring of personnel activities. There are usually no unique prerequisites for these programs, though students must fulfill general college admissions requirements such as submitting transcripts from high school or GED coursework.
Assisted living administration associate's degree programs can often be taken wholly or partially online. Common course topics include the following:
- The basics of long term care and assisted living
- Death, dying, grieving, loss and hospice
- Administration and social services for long term care facilities
- Rules, regulations and standards relating to the operation of a health care facility
- Care management and ethics
Popular Career Options
An entry-level position in assisted living administration will be difficult to obtain for those who only hold an associate's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing care facility administrators must have a bachelor's degree in addition to passing a state licensing exam; however, the BLS also states that direct work experience might be accepted as a substitute for formal education (www.bls.gov). Some specific jobs at assisted living facilities that graduates might consider applying for are:
- Resident services director
- Sales and marketing director
- Food services director
- Health care coordinator
- Assisted living property manager
Bachelor's Degrees Related to Assisted Living Administration
Assisted living administration may be offered as a concentration for a bachelor's degree program in health science or a similar topic. Programs of this nature tend to incorporate courses and exposure to the unique care provided by senior housing and assisted living communities, relative to dignity, quality of life and autonomy for the patients. Some bachelor's degree programs require applicants to hold an associate's degree before admission; however, many other programs only require a high school diploma or GED.
Coursework in an assisted-living-focused bachelor's degree program is designed to prepare students for managerial and clinical occupations within a number of health care environments, including hospitals, community health care centers and managed care organizations. Some of the specific classes common to these programs often include:
- Epidemiology and community health
- Health aspects of aging
- Strategic health organization and management
- Assisted living management and philosophy
- Health care finance, leadership and decision-making
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The BLS estimated that medical and health services management (including nursing home administration) employment will grow 22% for the years 2010 through 2020. Workers in this field earned a median annual salary of $88,580 in 2012.
Master of Health Administration
Master of Health Administration programs primarily focus on teaching students how to manage the complex and rapidly changing ethical, political and technological developments related to health care in the United States. Students also study the impact health care has on public, private and non-profit organizations.
Prior to graduation, many master's degree students in a health administration program are required to fulfill a supervised residency program or internship so that they can utilize classroom knowledge in real-world settings, including assisted living facilities. Through this part of the program, students are often presented with opportunities to gain an understanding of the organizational structure of health care facilities, obtain a global view of the health care industry and improve their leadership and administrative abilities.
Some of the education prerequisites inherent to many master's degree programs in health care administration tend to include pre-health science, accounting and statistics coursework; however, these prerequisites can often be satisfied after the student enrolls in the program. It's also common for institutes of higher learning to require applicants to have a bachelor's degree prior to admission to a graduate program in this field.
Most graduate-level programs are designed to be completed in two years of full-time coursework. Colleges and universities usually provide evening, weekend and online course delivery options for students in health administration master's degree programs. Coursework common to many of these programs can include the following:
- Problems and issues in the health care field
- Human behavior in public organizations
- Financial management of health services
- Economic concepts applied to health care providers
- Legal issues in health care delivery
- Assisted living administration research project or thesis
Popular Career Options
Career opportunities for assisted living administration professionals with a master's degree exist not only in health care facilities, but also in a wide variety of policy, planning and development fields. Graduates might find work with governmental agencies and institutions, non-profit and philanthropy organizations or substantive urban development projects. Specific job opportunities related to assisted living administration that are available to those holding a master's degree can include:
- Medical and health services manager
- Head of corporate development and support services
- Social and community service manager
- Administrator of ambulatory and emergency services
- Health services project administrator
Licensure and Continuing Education Information
The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) supplies the national licensing examination for nursing home administrators that is used by all U.S. states. Some states may also require an additional state exam. The NAB also administers the residential care and assisted living (RC/AL) exam, which is required for RC/AL administrator licensure in a few states; however, in most states, the RC/AL exam is voluntary and used to enhance a candidate's credentials. Completion of continuing education coursework is typically required to maintain licensure.
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