To provide better educational experiences for people serving administrative fellowships in the healthcare system, professionals formed the National Council on Administrative Fellowships. The not-for-profit organization works like an accrediting body to ensure that standards of practice are met in the provision of educational opportunities for graduate students undertaking administrative fellowships.
What Are Fellowships
These are programs that are administered by hospitals, clinics, medical centers, and non-profit healthcare organizations to train people with master's degrees to work in healthcare administration. The term "fellowship" is often used interchangeably with "internship," and the person in that position is called a "fellow." There are two basic types. One is a required fellowship before graduation, and the other is an optional opportunity for graduates. The internships last one-to-two years, depending upon the organization sponsoring them. The students earn salaries and benefits and carry responsibilities in the jobs just as permanent employees do. The average salary of $64,171 is consistent with the lower range of healthcare administration positions according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Competition for these positions is high because there is a shortage of opportunities.
What a Fellowship Entails
Fellowship students are integrated into healthcare administrative activities such as management meetings and interaction with senior managers by the organization which sponsors the internship . They even work as project managers and serve on committees. They serve rotations in all aspects of the organization administration components such as clinical operations, outpatient and inpatient services and community involvement. A study by the American College of Healthcare Executives found that the fellowships were profitable for the student in allowing them to gain hands-on experience in daily administrative actions and decision-making and to gain mentors. Fellows believed they also gained a more rapid advancement in employment because of program participation. Additionally, 54 percent of the participants in the programs went on to accept permanent positions with the corporations where they served the internship.
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To be eligible for such programs, students must hold one of the following degrees: Master of Health Services Administration, Master of Healthcare Administration, Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration or Master of Public Administration. Those who hold the latter degrees must also have prerequisite coursework in healthcare administration. Applicants must also have a GPA of at least 3.0 and provide letters of recommendation.
History of the NCAF
The National Council on Administrative Fellowships was formed in 2014 after analysis of two national studies. One of the studies targeted program directors and the other targeted educators. There were concerns that no code of standards existed to guide program administrators. Common practice in provision of opportunities in one organization might not rise to the degree of another, and so the educational experience would be inferior, as well. The NCAF was created to devise such a code and then to oversee its implementation.
The organization performs several tasks. It influences leadership practices by promoting and sharing promising healthcare administration practices. In addition, it recognizes excellence in healthcare leadership and facilitates collaboration between organizations. A fourth function of the NCAF is establishment of a scientific and evidentiary basis for the programs.
Like any accrediting group, the organization has no power to force healthcare facilities to offer fellowships or to comply with the code of practice. The compliance of corporations with the National Council on Administrative Fellowships, however, is an indicator of a good educational experience for the fellow.