Master of Health Administration (MHA) Resources: MHA 699: Health Administration Internship Manual

This guide is a collection of library-related resources relevant to the MHA program. URL:

Field Experience Guide

First, let me congratulate you on completing all course work necessary to qualify for your MHA capstone experience. Also, the MHA program goals encourages those with no or limited healthcare work experience to use the internship capstone (MHA 699) to complete their degree requirements. Experience has shown that a full-time internship in a healthcare organization is an excellent way to gain work experience, confirm one’s area of interest, build project skills, and lay a job-search foundation.

In support of your internship success, this manual has been prepared as a guide. The information contained in this guidebook will facilitate your ability to perform well throughout the internship. As such, it is important that you review this information and follow the manual’s direction. Also, your MHA faculty/mentor stands ready to address questions as they arise.

Also, as you become familiar with the directives and expectations clarified in this manual, you will be able to perform well and maximize the value of this hands-on work experience – for you and the placement organization. In the process, please keep in mind the goals of this program and the competencies associated with the learning objectives of this course. This information will help you respond to the course-ending evaluation that you will be asked to complete.

Best wishes,

MHA Program Director

Preparations to enter the health profession has a long history anchored an apprentice approach to training. The essential goal is to prepare individuals with a) knowledge that is b) readily applied to specific service needs. Both the required knowledge and resultant demonstration of applied skills have only intensified over the years. This reality is seen in the intensity of basic science preparation for physicians and nurses coupled with rigorous applied learning via clinical rotations and residency training. The expectation today is that individuals do not leave education and training until after demonstrating proficiency in technical knowledge and applied skills.

The same expectation is migrating to expectations of individuals preparing to enter the world of healthcare administration. In support of this expectation, the MHA internship is a full-time experience designed to provide a student with an opportunity to gain practical experience in a work setting. This is accomplished by applying MHA course content in a supervised health care organization. The experience provides the student an opportunity to gain and enhance skills for personal and professional development for future employment and provides value to the internship organization.

MHA Program Goals (TBA)

The University and the College of Health Professions (CHP) have established strategic initiatives as expressions derived from their respective Vision and Mission statements. Also, the MHA Program has established specific goals that it desires to accomplish in the lives of its students and graduates. These goals are aligned with the University’s strategic initiatives and values. In turn the MHA Program’s goals drive curriculum priorities and a set of competencies that that are built into each person as they progress through the courses.

Internship Course Goals and Competency Objectives

This section identifies each learning outcome that drives the purpose and methods for this course. Also, the intent of each learning objectives and its associated assignments is to build specific competencies into your administrative mindset; an outlook that fosters executive capabilities in the world of work and motivates continuous professional development. Since each course in the curriculum has a similar purpose, a number of competencies will be introduced and continuously reinforced throughout your time in the program. As you move through the curriculum courses, it is important to consider the associated competencies and the ways in which each course enhances competency awareness and progressive attainment.

The learning outcomes and the corresponding competencies for this course are as shown in the following table. If you want information and definitions of each competence, please consult the Competency Handbook that is posted in the Bb Syllabus tab.

Your internship capstone is embedded in a degree curriculum driven by program goals and specific course learning objectives. Those learning objectives and the associated course competencies are summarized as follows:

No. Course Learning Outcomes Competency2
1. Develop more in depth understanding of specific areas within healthcare organizations through direct educationally related work experiences. Achievement Orientation; Information Seeking; Organizational Awareness; Accountability; Interpersonal Understanding
2. Demonstrate the enhanced knowledge and/or abilities that the internship is designed to ensure the student has. Execution; Initiative; Information Seeking;
3. Apply in a practice or service setting the increased knowledge and abilities gained from the internship experience. Innovative Thinking; Impact and Influence; Performance Measurement; Communication Skills

2 Competencies are derived from the MHA Program’s competency model based on the National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NCHL) Competency Model plus additional CAHME competencies added to the NCHL model.


Competency Focus

In today’s world of health administration education the emphasis is rapidly shifting from student learning outcomes and graduation rates to a demonstration of student attainment of specific competencies. The intent is to provide opportunities for students to gain well-defined competencies – skills that have ready application in health administration employment settings.

To that end, this internship is a perfect opportunity to simultaneously a) reflect upon competencies that have been introduced, covered in detail, or emphasized in courses and b) experience the immediate application of these competencies by fulfilling day-to-day internship responsibilities. Thus, at the end of this internship experience you should be able to conduct a sell-assessment of competency attainment as well as opportunities for further enhancement of administrative competencies in your skill set.


Affiliation Agreement

The MHA Program Director (PD) or designee will establish an inventory of healthcare organizations with which the University has established a formal affiliation agreement. An affiliation agreement between the internship placement organization’s site representative and CMU must be executed before the student can begin their internship. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Internship Sites

It is expected that MHA students are geographically distributed. Some are located in Michigan. Others are located throughout the U.S. and other countries. As such, managing the number and location of available and acceptable placement sites will be an on-going logistic responsibility of the MHA Program Director or designee. Selecting, approving, and evaluating sites will be accomplished by following the Guidelines for Selection of a Good Health Administration Internship Site. Also, students are expected to research placement opportunities that fit their ability to relocate, travel, and secure a location.

International Placement Sites

While the primary goal of the internship is to gain experience and understanding of healthcare delivery in the United States, an MHA student interested in completing an internship outside of the U.S. should discuss this intent well in advance with the MHA PD or designee. An effort will be made to secure an appropriate internship experience for these students. Students wishing to participate in an international experience must also coordinate their experience with CMU’s Office of Global Engagement.

The Internship Preceptor or placement site Preceptor is an essential link between the University and the participating organization – a relationship that supports: a) the MHA’s program goals, b) the internship’s student learning objectives, c) the internship’s value to the site facility, and d) the assessment of competency attainment. In addition, the Preceptor-Faculty relationship is the primary communication tool that optimizes the internship’s value to all participants. This essential role is fulfilled by the Preceptor as follows:

Intern Supervision

As a practical matter, the internship is a work experience in a healthcare organization – one supervised by the Preceptor or the Interns “boss”. The organization will designate an individual to serve at the intern’s Preceptor. This individual will have a training background in health administration or a related area and work experience in health administration.

Intern Project

The working assumption is that everyone in a healthcare leadership position has a list of projects or research endeavors that are good intentioned. More often than not and unfortunately, the leader’s routine work demands leave little time to work through the items on his/her “do list”. Within this reality, the Preceptor may identify a study and assign it to the intern, especially since any such project will have value for the Preceptor and the organization.

Competency Evaluation

At the outset, this manual and the MHA 699 course syllabus identifies MHA performance competencies to be pursued. An important accreditation consideration is assessing the extent to which a) course objectives are aligned with program goals; b) course objectives are reflected in course assignments; and c) Preceptor assessment competency attainment was achieved. In support of these intended outcomes, the Preceptor will be asked to complete a competency attainment questionnaire for each Intern supervised.

This section outlines your responsibilities within your role as an intern in the placement organization. Those obligations are outlined under the following topic headers:


It is important to realize and accept that you are first a representative of Central Michigan University. As such, your conduct reflects on the University, its health administration faculty, and the MHA’s curriculum. Your Preceptor specifically and the placement organization in general will look to you for an answer to the overarching question, e.g., “Has Central Michigan University done a good job preparing you for administrative healthcare work?” Another way to summarize this significant role is to perform as an ambassador from the University to your internship facility.

Second, you represent yourself as an up-coming MHA graduate and a future health administration executive – depending on where your career path takes you. It is also possible that you may choose to pursue doctoral training. In either case, letters of support from your internship Preceptor will certainly facilitate progress toward early career goals. That is, how you conduct yourself as an intern should be a daily concern, especially as you prepare to establish yourself in the world of work.

As a success guide for these two responsibilities, MHA 699 has identified Professionalism as a course competency. The program has defined professionalism as:

“The demonstration of ethics and professional practices, as well as stimulation social accountability and community stewardship. The desire to act in a way that is consistent with one’s values and what one says is important.”

There are a myriad of rules that could be listed that an intern should follow to be successful. Instead, the following expectations are priority behaviors:

  1. Consider yourself a full-time member of the organization, and therefore, subject to all rules and regulations which govern employees, interns, volunteers and providers. Follow the policies and procedures of the organization and be responsible for tasks assigned by the site Preceptor.
  2. Establish and maintain a respectful, responsive and professional relationship with your site Preceptor. To that end, be professional in all behavior, including written and verbal communication. Be conscientious, prompt, and dependable while following all lines of protocol.
  3. Develop positive interpersonal relationships with other staff and interns. Above all, do not participate or take sides in any personal conflicts within the organization and cease from any form of organizational gossip.
  4. Know also that other organization-specific standards will be communicated by your Precept

Intern Organizational Awareness Objectives

Because the internship takes place within a healthcare organization, there are specific intern experience objectives that are to be attained. These are related to key aspects of the placement organization, are aligned with course competencies, and are identified as follows:

No. Experience Objective Course Competencies
1. Understand the overall design and interrelationships of the major departments within the organization. Organizational Awareness, Achievement Orientation; Information Seeking; Analytical Thinking
2. Actively participate in daily projects as a full-fledged employee and demonstrate leadership by leading a specific project that directly contributes to the organization’s operations. Organizational Awareness, Achievement Orientation; Information Seeking; Analytical Thinking; Performance Measurement; Communication Skills
3. Differentiate the key administrative activities of departmental managers and supervisors relative to planning, organizing, coordinating, budgeting, marketing, and reporting responsibilities. Organizational Awareness, Achievement Orientation; Information Seeking; Analytical Thinking; Performance Measurement; Communication Skills
4. Understand the organizational structure and the internal and external environment in which the organization functions. Organizational Awareness, Achievement Orientation; Information Seeking; Analytical Thinking; Performance Measurement; Communication Skills


Intern Project

An excellent tool for fostering a progressive understanding of one’s placement facility is to conduct a project within and related to the organization. In support of fulfilling the organizational awareness objectives, interns will develop and complete a meaningful health administration project with the approval of and under the guidance of the Site Preceptor. Each intern is expected to participate in the planning, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of the overall project.

Under the supervision of the site Preceptor or designee, conduct a relevant health administration project from beginning to end, including needs assessment, planning, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of the project. The scope of the project may be dependent on time constraints or other factors unique to the Preceptor and the placement organization.

Upon completing the project, the intern will develop a final project report of the findings and conclusion. The report should be formatted according to APA style and aligned with professional writing standards. It is possible that the placement facility has a report/policy format that is required for internal use. If this is the case, the project report should be formatted accordingly. You may, at the Preceptor’s discretion, be ask to prepare PowerPoint slides and give a report presentation.

Competency Evaluation

Each intern will be asked to complete a competency-attainment assessment survey and the end of the internship experience. This questionnaire will be used to determine the extent to which you believe you’ve been able to strengthen or attain specific course competencies by completing the internship. Also, the survey will seek your input on competency attainment as a result of completing the MHA curriculum.

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