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Students beginning a career in healthcare administration must possess an array of professional and management skills in addition to a strong fundamental understanding of the field of healthcare administration. Proficient computer skills are a prime example of an essential management tool for healthcare administrators. However, it is unclear which computer skills are absolutely necessary for healthcare administrators and the extent of congruency between the computer skills possessed by new graduates and the needs of senior healthcare professionals. Our objectives in this research are to assess which computer skills are the most important to senior healthcare executives and recent healthcare administration graduates and examine the level of agreement between the two groups.
Based on a survey of senior healthcare executives and graduate healthcare administration students, we identify a comprehensive and pragmatic array of computer skills and categorize them into four groups, according to their importance, for making recent health administration graduates valuable in the healthcare administration workplace. Traditional parametric hypothesis tests are used to assess congruency between responses of senior executives and of recent healthcare administration graduates. For each skill, responses of the two groups are averaged to create an overall ranking of the computer skills.
Not surprisingly, both groups agreed on the importance of computer skills for recent healthcare administration graduates. In particular, computer skills such as word processing, graphics and presentation, using operating systems, creating and editing databases, spreadsheet analysis, using imported data, e-mail, using electronic bulletin boards, and downloading information were among the highest ranked computer skills necessary for recent graduates. However, there were statistically significant differences in perceptions between senior executives and healthcare administration students as to the extent of computer skills required in areas such as word processing, graphics and presentation, spreadsheet analysis, using imported data, and working with local area networks (LANs).