E-learning and Online Programs in Healthcare Leadership

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October 07, 2020 01:33 AM (GMT-04:00)
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Healthcare Leadership Education and Training – A Mixed Bag

Health executives hail from a variety of educational backgrounds. Some leaders have been formally trained in a healthcare leadership program, earning an MHA, MPH, MPA, MHSA, DPH degree, or the like. Other leaders are former healthcare providers (MDs, DOs, RNs, etc.) who transitioned into their administrative leadership roles. These medical professionals honed their business and management skills in situ. Still others have come into leadership with a general business administration background and have learned the healthcare ropes while on the job.  

The Value of Targeted Online Training in Health Leadership

While nothing replaces on-the-job experience, there is significant value in ongoing education in healthcare leadership. This is because successful leaders must balance an array of continually evolving factors, including:

  • Disease prevention
  • Patient population dynamics
  • Technological advancements
  • Patient safety
  • Quality of care
  • Policy and reform
  • Organizational operations
  • Public relations
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Financial performance
  • Analytics and metrics
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Ethics

Time is a precious commodity in the field of healthcare, and leaders may face demanding schedules that prevent them from pursuing formal, in-person leadership training. That’s why virtual programs may be a viable option for busy health executives. For healthcare leaders who are limited on time but want to build expertise in administration and management, online degree programs and e-learning could be the answer.

Online Healthcare Leadership Training and Education Options

While healthcare leadership training was once limited to in-person university education programs, various virtual opportunities now abound:

Online college degree programs.

Health leaders always have the option to pursue an advanced degree online in one of many university or college programs. However, it is essential to confirm the program is approved by one of the leading accreditation organizations like the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). CAHME-accredited master’s programs are offered both online and at campus locations in schools of business/management, public health, public administration/public policy, and allied health and human services. A state-by-state listing of accredited programs is available at CAHME’s accreditation page, as well as information about different programs which may be especially valuable to today’s emerging and seasoned healthcare leaders, including:

  • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
  • Master of Public Health (MPH)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA)
  • Master of Health Services Administration (MHSA)
  • Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA)

CAHME also accredits a number of dual degree programs that include:

  • JD/MHA
  • MD/MBA


Private and public entities, as well as professional organizations, offer an array of e-learning opportunities.

American College of Healthcare Executives

(ACHE) features live webinars, virtual seminars, on-demand tutorials, and self-study courses in health leadership topics, many for continuing education credits. Currently of interest are opportunities like ACHE’s virtual face-to-face course on Leading in a Changing Environment: Focus on Population Health and Optimizing the Roles of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, designed for CEOs, CMOs, CNOs, COOs, CFOs, and other senior-level healthcare executives. These courses offer continuing education credits.

American Hospital Association

(AHA) offers ongoing webinars, an annual leadership summit, and a rural healthcare leadership conference. Currently, AHA offers a Certificate in Diversity Management (CDM), which is a 12-month program designed specifically for busy working professionals that focuses on diversity management in today's health care organizations. 

Healthcare Financial Management Association

(HFMA) features live and on-demand webinars, conferences, certifications, and online courses. For mid- to senior-level healthcare finance professionals, HFMA offers the Certified Specialist Business Intelligence (CSBI) certification. This program, which is available 24/7 online for registered participants, is designed to help sharpen skills in business intelligence, technical, analytical, quantitative, relationship, change management, and consulting.

Making the Most of eLearning and Online Educational Programs

When deciding on the appropriate route for virtual programs, healthcare leaders can:

  • Consider how well the program fits into their current lifestyle and work schedule
  • Decide whether the desired result is an advanced degree, certification, endorsement, or CEUs, etc.
  • Weigh the immediate and long-term benefits of the program against the investment of time and money
  • Research the caliber and qualifications of presenters before deciding on a program
  • Choose a program that is innovative and that is highly correlated to the field of interest
  • Ensure the program is accredited and has a strong reputation

In addition to helping leaders stay current, training can bolster the resume and potentially increase earning potential. It can give a leader a competitive edge when it comes to securing a desirable position. Ultimately, ongoing education benefits not only the healthcare leader, but also the staff, patients, and community.

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