MHA Competencies

The HPM-MHA student competency model (SCM) contains four specific domains, including an interdisciplinary, cross-cutting set of competencies. The four domains include:

  • Cross-cutting
  • Self-actualization
  • Management
  • Contextual / environmental understanding

Each of the domains covers specific competencies as detailed below:

Cross-Cutting Competencies:
1.  Analytical Thinking
2.  Communication
3.  Systems Thinking
4.  Accountability
5.  Professionalism
6.  Self-Development
7.  Financial Skills
8.  Human Resources      Management
9.  Information Technology
10.  Leadership
11.  Performance Measurement
     and Process Improvement
Contextual /
Environmental Understanding:

12.  Community Orientation
13.  Organizational Awareness
14.  Strategic Orientation

View MHA Competencies (PDF)

Cross Cutting Competencies

1. Analytical Thinking
Breaks down problems; Identifies and recognizes multiple relationships; develops complex analyses based on available data and information. (Target level: Advanced)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Separate situations into parts
  • Seek out information relevant to the situation
  • Distinguish causation from correlation, and information from data
  • Interpret population, disease, and healthcare utilization data
  • Identify the cause-and-effect relationship between multiple aspects of a situation
  • Use several analytical techniques to identify potential solutions and weigh the value of each
  • Anticipate obstacles while planning several steps ahead in a sequential, multi-faceted solution
  • Identify contingencies in the proposed solution.

2. Communication
Uses generally accepted English grammar; Facilitates group interactions; Prepares well-documented written analyses; Presents compelling solutions by employing logical deductive and/or insightful inductive reasoning. (Target level: Advanced)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Speak and write in a clear, logical, and grammatical manner in formal and informal situations to prepare cogent presentations;
  • Articulate assumptions, distinguishing between facts and inferences;
  • Use subject-verb agreement and parallel structure;
  • Use rules of punctuation, and construct sentences and paragraph;
    Document the source(s) of information, and uses an appropriate reference format;
  • Deliver an accurate and complete presentation of facts with accompanying audiovisual media (presentation software, exhibits, etc.);
  • Specify well-reasoned recommendations and engages in non-defensive Q&A;
  • Demonstrate good time management skills.

3. Systems Thinking
Perceives and comprehends the multiple inter-relationships among individuals and collectivities; Recognizes the diversity of interests, goals, and approaches among system participants when identifying healthcare management problems and developing proposed solutions. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Recognize system level properties that result from interdependent interactions among humans, between humans and their local, state, and national environments, and across regional and global locations;
  • Comprehend and appreciate how biological, social, and physical components affect the relationships among and across multiple layers of the system, ranging from individuals, organizations, and communities, to local, state, national and global environments;
  • Distinguish between individual goals and collective goals, especially as they relate to healthcare policy and healthcare management issues;
  • Recognize the differences between top-down and bottom-up dynamics among system participants as groups pursue their goals;
  • Account for variation in perspectives when analyzing problems and developing healthcare management and health policy solutions;
  • Account for indirect unintended consequences when developing solutions.  


4. Accountability
Holds oneself and others accountable to standards of performance; Ensures compliance using the power of one's position or force of personality appropriately; Responds to individual and group performance based upon the mission of the organization, both as a student and a resident. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Complete the Academic Integrity modules;
  • Understand how to communicate requirements and expectations in a reasonably clear manner;
  • Understand how to explicitly delegate details of routine tasks in order to free self for more valuable or longer-range considerations;
  • Recognize how to firmly says “no” to unreasonable requests;
  • Communicate and demand high performance and suitable resources as a student and resident;
  • Issue clear warnings about consequences for non-performance as a student and resident.

5. Professionalism
The demonstration of ethical professional practices; Acts in a way that is consistent with community values as both a student and a resident. (Target level: Advanced)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Know how to routinely act in accordance with the organization's expressed core values;
  • Understand how to deal with staff, public, and government in a truthful manner;
  • Express what he or she believes even when the message may not be welcomed;
  • Promote organizational integrity when dealing with students, employees at a residency site, and community stakeholders;
  • Promote the development of professional roles/values that are compatible with the improvement of health and wellness;
  • Establish approaches to handling conflict-of-interest issues and mistakes with openness, honesty, and fairness.

6. Self-Development
The ability to have an accurate view of one's own strengths and development needs; A willingness to address needs through reflective, self-directed learning, and by trying new approaches. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Seek feedback from others, including those who are likely to be critical;
  • Appreciate the need to learn and grow;
  • Regularly reflect on own performance including both successes and failures;
  • Independently set annual improvement goals and analyzes future developmental needs;
  • Proactively pursue multi-year personal development, including willingness to tackle fundamental behavior change.

Management Competencies

7. Financial Skills
The ability to interpret and explain financial and managerial accounting information, prepare and evaluate budgets, and make sound financial management decisions. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Use financial metrics to drive and track the organization's success;
  • Explain income statement, balance sheet, cash flow, and indicators of financial health, especially profitability;
  • Understand how to positively affect budgets and assets through expense and revenue management (unit or department);
  • Interpret budget variances, including revisions and corrective actions;
  • Assess reimbursement and payment system alternatives in light of the behavior of providers and payers;
  • Consider the impact of reimbursement and payment systems when assessing management alternatives;
  • Analyze return-on-investment, net present value, cash flow analyses, and risk-return trade-offs and cost-benefit analyses;
  • Understand basics of insurance rating and actuarial risk.

8. Human Resources Management
The ability to understand and explain staff development and other management practices that represent contemporary best practices; Incorporates compliances with legal and regulatory requirements when optimizing workplace performance solutions; Aligns human resource practices and processes to meet the strategic goals of the organization. (Target level: Beginner)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of employment management principles, policies, and law in relation to hiring, promotion, or dismissal;
  • Understand when to apply equal opportunity and federal contract compliance, the disabilities act (ADA), fair labor standards (FLSA) and employee income, security, and refinement regulations (ERISA);
  • Demonstrate an understanding of union/labor principles and practices (e.g., contracting, negotiations, grievance process, mediation);
  • Identify and explain compensation, benefit, and incentive programs to optimize performance of diverse employee stakeholders;
  • Align human resource functions to achieve organizational strategic outcomes;
  • Understand the importance of aligning recruitment and selection, job design and work systems, reward and recognition, and succession planning.

9. Information Technology Management
The ability to understand the use and benefits of administrative and clinical information technology; Understands decision-support tools in process and performance improvement. (Target level: Beginner)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Be familiar with current technology for patient tracking (especially registration, billing and records management), financial automation and reporting, and reimbursement management;
  • Actively promote automation of paper-based processes;
  • Advocate for integrated systems that collect, track and share information within and between organizations
  • Understand the opportunities and challenges of HIT to improve operations and clinical quality;
  • Understand how information technology tools are related to regulatory compliance.

10. Leadership
The ability to inspire and influence individual and group excellence; Applies different leadership techniques suitable for various situations; Creates a shared vision and successfully manages change to attain an organization’s strategic ends. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Apply incipient leadership characteristics and adapt techniques based on context;
  • Assess the organization’s corporate values and culture when redesigning business processes;
  • Establish a compelling vision and set of goals for the organization;
  • Encourage a high level of commitment to the values of the organization;
  • Gain stakeholder buy-in to accept risk and support new business ventures;
  • Explore opportunities for the growth and development of the organization through continuous organizational learning;
  • Understand how to develop and maintains effective relationships among and between the administrative and clinical staff to support the organization’s mission.

11. Performance Measurement and Process Management
The ability to monitor performance through the use of statistical and financial methods; Develops and uses metrics to set goals and measure organizational (e.g., clinical, staff-related, and financial) performance; Committed to the employment of evidence-based techniques; The ability to analyze and improve an organizational process, including incorporating the principles of contemporary quality management. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Select appropriate measures of performance (e.g., clinical, staff-related, and financial) to track organizational performance;
  • Employ a scorecard of quantitative and qualitative measures among financial, patient and employee information;
  • Use patient and constituent satisfaction scores, as well as demographic and epidemiological statistics to set organizational priorities, plans, and investments;
  • Measure organizational success by comparisons to accepted standards (e.g., National Quality Forum, Joint Commission, Baldrige);
  • Use process mapping to identify key decision points;
  • Determine staffing requirements (numbers, costs and essential knowledge, skills and other attributes), cost implications, and service implications.

Contextual-Environmental Understanding Competencies

12. Community Orientation
The ability to identify and align personal and organizational priorities with the needs and values of the local, state, and national communities the organization serves. (Target level: Beginner)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Assess community satisfaction and current and future health needs;
  • Understand how to initiate collaborative planning with the community;
  • Respond appropriately to local, state, and national community needs through resource allocation;
  • Keep community stakeholders up-to-date about the progress of organizational projects or other events that impact them;
  • Maintain clear communication with community leaders and constituents regarding mutual expectations for the healthcare organization;
  • Embrace the diversity of cultural and ethnocentric values while addressing population-based wellness needs.

13. Organizational Awareness
The ability to understand and learn the formal and informal decision-making structures and power relationships in an organization or industry; The ability to identify key decision makers and the individuals who can influence them; The ability to predict how new events will affect individuals and groups within and across the organization; Evaluates organizational structure and design; Understand the basics of organizational governance. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Understand chain of command, positional power, rules and regulations, and policies and procedures;
  • Recognize the utility and relevance of the informal structure of an organization;
  • Adapt actions to the organizational climate and culture; 
  • Recognize norms and values of an organization;
  • Consider the priorities and values of multiple stakeholders;
  • Recognize the role of power and politics in change management within and across organizations;
  • Address the deeper reasons for organization, industry, and stakeholder actions, such as the underlying cultural, ethnic, economic, and demographic history and traditions;
  • Define roles and responsibilities of different caregivers and other providers;
  • Define roles and responsibilities of administrators and departments;
  • Assess different organizational designs (functional, departmental, service line, etc.) and their relative advantages;
  • Understand basic differences in provider structures (i.e., teaching hospital, community hospital, clinic, post-acute providers);
  • Know how to use organization structure to design and improve performance;
  • Understand governance practices, including board relations, committee structure, and fiduciary and ethical responsibilities

14. Strategic Orientation
The ability to consider the business, demographic, ethno-cultural, political, and regulatory implications of strategic decisions on the viability of the organization. (Target level: Intermediate)

For example the student has demonstrated the ability to...

  • Conduct an environmental scan by identifying the competitive/market, governmental and regulatory, public opinion, economic, and technological forces that shape an organization;
  • Identify the strengths and limitations of the organization in light of the environment scan;
  • Position an organization with respect to important environmental forces;
  • Develop appropriate mission, vision, and corporate values statements;
  • Identify strategic goals and plans for an organization that take advantage of its strengths, addresses its shortcomings, builds on opportunities, and attempts to minimize environmental threats;
  • Understand how to align organizational units and resource allocation (financial, people, technology, materials) to achieve strategic goals.