Saint Leo's online Health Care Management Association and other professional organizations offer students growth opportunities beyond the classroom.

Working toward your online health care management degree? Wondering how to network and learn more about the industry to be ready for your next career move?

Think about joining a professional organization – not only will you make some great connections with potential employers, you'll also have access to industry-specific information and insight you can't get anywhere else.

Why should you join?

Nancy Cheek, Saint Leo's undergraduate career advisor, says professional associations provide a platform to bring those educated or employed in a certain profession together to support knowledge sharing and networking. They also serve to create and maintain standards within industries for the best interest of the public.

Becoming involved in a professional organization or two is a great investment of your time, no matter where you are in your career.

"Those who join professional associations as students show their desire to learn more about the field they are entering, while those already in a position show their ability to bring a comprehensive awareness to their roles – both these factors rank high with employers looking to hire or promote an employee," she adds.

Saint Leo has you covered

Saint Leo University has a Health Care Management Association specifically for online students.

What can you expect if you?

Jessica Schuckert, student life specialist at Saint Leo, says the Health Care Management Association is a great way for online students to network with other students and to hear from professionals in the field. The group meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. ET and discusses topics that range from health care reform to APA formatting to discussions on the internship requirement for the major.

"There are opportunities for student leadership and student presentations as well," Jessica adds.

Learn more about becoming a member, and get started on the next part of your career journey today.

But wait, there's more!   

Depending on your specific area of interest, career goals or your current position, here are a few external organizations you may want to look into as a student in an online health care management program.

American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)

ACHE brings educational programs and volunteer opportunities to members at the local level to help professionals advance their careers. The organization offers the opportunity to become board certified.

You can join ACHE as a student associate if you are enrolled full-time or part-time in a four-year, regionally accredited program in health services administration or a related administrative field that leads to a bachelor's degree – or if are enrolled as a graduate student in a program such as Saint Leo's MBA in health care management. Student associate membership is offered at a reduced rate and provides wide range of services that help launch students' careers in health care management.

Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (AHCAP)

AHCAP is for professionals who support leaders in health care, offering an annual conference that provides the opportunity to learn and network, along with a certification program.

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

AHIMA provides resources, professional development opportunities, continuing education and a certification program to those managing health data and medical records, including best practices for implementing electronic health records.

AHIMA offers student memberships at a reduced rate to those enrolled in a formal certificate or degree granting program relevant to AHIMA's purpose. Membership offers networking, a body of knowledge and career preparation services.

Health Care Administrators Association (HCAA)

Third-party administrators and service providers such as insurance carriers and heath care consultants can connect through HCAA to share ideas, strategies and challenges to grow within the health care industry. The organization also offers a training and certification program.

Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA)

HFMA offers education, conferences, and practical tools for leaders in health care finance field and provides several certification options. The group also works with other organizations to find the best solutions to address critical issues of concern in the health care field.

Full-time college students who are not employed in the health care finance profession or one of its specialties are eligible for a free HFMA student e-membership, which offers access to comprehensive health care finance information, valuable networking opportunities, and HFMA member benefits.

Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)

MGMA promotes career advancement to medical practice administrators and health care executives through tools such as networking, educational programs, benchmarking data and research, and professional certification and fellowship opportunities.

MGMA offers a reduced-rate student membership for full-time students, providing resources and connections with industry leaders who can help students reach their career goals.

Are there any other professional associations you think students in online health care management degree programs should check out?

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