Programs in health administration seek to prepare students for real-world challenges of leading in a complex environment. Competency models such as the one produced by the National Center for Healthcare Leadership (NHCL) focus on leadership. However, most new graduates of traditional undergraduate programs will not go into leadership roles immediately. There is an extensive literature on school to work transition for graduating nurses and a modest literature on physician transition to practice from residency. However, there is relatively little literature about the school-to-work transition from traditional undergraduate programs in health administration. To address this knowledge gap, we conducted a longitudinal, interview-based study with 12 graduates from an AUPHA-certified undergraduate health administration program as they made their transition to practice. Each participant was interviewed five times, once before graduation and quarterly thereafter. The participants reported relatively weak formal organizational socialization, high levels of autonomy, high levels of learning by doing, and high levels of supervisor turnover. These findings suggest the need for undergraduate programs in health administration to emphasize areas of competencies that include managing up and followership to improve the quality of new graduates' school-to-work transition and success as an early careerist.


Recreation Management and Policy

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Health Administration Education


Ingenta Connect

Document Type



This is an open access article published by Ingenta Connect in Journal of Health Administration Education in 2018, available online.