Can I Earn an Online Master's in Nursing Home Administration?

Yes, you can earn an online master’s degree with a specialization in nursing home administration, although the program may call itself “aging services management” or “long term care” or something else, and it may be a specialized master of arts (MA), master of health administration (MHA), or master of business administration (MBA) program.

More than 50 million seniors are living in the United States today, and with more baby boomers entering retirement every year, demand for caregivers is skyrocketing. As such, a more qualified and experienced workforce is required to provide services within hospital-based care, long-term care facilities, in-home care, chronic-condition management, and hospice.

People interested in this profession have many options available to them, both online and on-campus. There are many online master’s programs in health administration (MHA) as well as related nursing home administration programs. In fact, there has never been a better time to pursue this option.

Adults turning 65 right now may not necessarily need constant care and attention, but as they approach their 70s, 80s and beyond, their healthcare needs will be inevitable. This may place a strain on elderly care resources if there are not enough qualified professionals to meet this rising demand. The U.S. Census Bureau expects the portion of adults over the age of 80—the average age of many assisted living residents—to increase by 30 percent by 2030, which accounts to nearly three percent of the total population.

The projected salaries for nursing home positions are in line with the demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), openings for medical and health managers are expected to increase 20 percent in the decade preceding 2026—much faster than the average job growth in the U.S. The BLS estimates the annual mean salary for a medical or health manager to be $96,540.

However, the country is unfortunately currently witnessing a shortage of healthcare professionals who are trained to manage the systems and teams necessary to address the demand. As a result, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are having a hard time filling critical positions.

Experienced professionals interested in earning a master’s degree in nursing home administration or its sister degree in gerontology can expand their skills through online programs designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. As such, students can pursue managerial or leadership positions in the field with minimal disruption to their lives.

Obtaining an MHA can be immensely beneficial to young professionals looking to make a difference in the quality of life for seniors. This guide will explore distance-based programs for aspiring nursing home administrators.

The Role of Nursing Home Administrators

There are many different kinds of nursing homes with varying levels of assistance, but one of the primary roles of a nursing home is to offer medical aid to those who do not yet need the services of a hospital but who might not be able to take care of themselves within their own homes. Nurses, aides, and other medical personnel staff these facilities to provide patients with round-the-clock care. Because of the different kinds of care and large staff of assisted living facilities, one of the most important jobs is that of the nursing home administrator.

As leaders of assisted living facilities, nursing home administrators are required to manage staff, patients, and admissions effectively, all while maintaining a budget. They interact with employees, admit new patients, organize records, give tours to prospective residents and their families, and purchase upgraded equipment and technology on a daily basis.

They must also stay up to date on the latest state and federal requirements and regulations related to the health and safety of their patients. This is a demanding job that may require working in the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. As such, they must be able to juggle a large workload, manage stress effectively, and handle a variety of challenges that arise on a daily basis.

Online Masters Degrees for Aspiring Nursing Home Administrators

There are several types of online graduate degrees for prospective nursing home administrators.

Requirements for Nursing Home Administrators

Finally, to become nursing home administrators, students must meet a variety of conditions. Below are the most common ones.

State and Federal Examinations

Students must take various exams developed by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) to become licensed nursing home administrators. NAB is the country’s leading authority on licensing, credentialing, and regulating administrators in the long-term care sector. The National Core of Knowledge Exam for Long Term Care Administrators (CORE) is designed as an entry-level test to ensure that NHAs have adequate training in elderly care. The National Nursing Home Administrators Line of Service Examination Program (NHA) is specifically required as a component of licensure requirements in the U.S. The NHA exam includes 150 questions on resident-centered care and quality of life, human resources, finance, environment, leadership, and management. Additional state exams vary by state. Students can learn more about these on NAB’s website.

Exam Preparations

Study materials are available on NAB’s website to help students prepare for the exams. Each state’s examination is different, with varied practice materials. For the national test, students can order the NAB Study Guide online or take advantage of many other online resources such as publications and forums to get the materials they need.

Continuing Education

One of the most popular forms of continuing education is obtaining an online master’s degree in healthcare administration or nursing home administration. However, there are several types of online master’s degrees that can prepare students for this career track, which are explored below.

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