Medical Office Administration: Associate, Bachelor & Online Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in medical office administration? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and medical office administration training programs.
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Studying Medical Office Administration: Degrees at a Glance

Medical office administrators handle the daily tasks and activities that contribute to the operation of healthcare facilities and improve services delivered to patients. Medical office specialists perform administrative duties or direct, plan and implement healthcare services. Professionals in the industry work in hospitals, outpatient care centers, physicians' offices and nursing facilities. Knowledge of medical terminology, federal regulations and medical business procedures are essential to success, for which schools offer training in communication and medical office technology skills.

The associate's degree program prepares you for entry-level support opportunities in office administration or health information management. Access to certifications offered in health information management usually requires you to graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. The bachelor's degree program offers the education required for management opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects average (12%) through much faster than average (31%) job growth over the 2010-2020 decade.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level jobs at healthcare-related facilities People who want to pursuit management positions in healthcare settings
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Medical assistant ($30,000)*
- Secretary or administrative assistant, medical ($32,000)*
- Medical records and health information technician ($36,000)*
Career paths for both degrees are similar, although bachelor's degree holders will experience more advancement opportunities and a higher salary
- Medical and health services manager ($96,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits
- Internship
- Roughly 120 credits
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Medical Office Administration

The associate's degree provides training in basic medical terminology, human anatomy and communication skills. You will learn to design and format medical documents, proficient keyboarding skills, sufficient knowledge of office technology and research skills. Programs place emphasis on medical business office concepts, health information management and customer relations. Programs require sufficient scoring on mathematics and English placements. Some schools offer the program under a college of information technology and may offer credit for certifications earned prior to enrollment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some programs articulate to a bachelor's degree program
  • General technology training makes positions outside health services available
  • Short program length will provide the training necessary to enter the field quickly

Cons

  • Salaries for medical secretary ($32,000 mean) and medical assistants ($30,000 mean) opportunities were comparatively low*
  • Competition against graduates of a bachelor's degree program will be keen for medical and health services manager positions
  • Specialization early on may be the best advancement strategy if you plan to skip a bachelor's degree

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program offers courses that prepare you to perform administrative support tasks in a number of medical settings. Programs emphasize oral and written communication, the sciences, technology and medical terminology. Schools design curricula to deliver roughly 60 credits of general education, subject matter and elective courses. You will learn health insurance and reimbursement practices, human diseases and research methods. Schools often offer the following courses:

  • Formatting documents
  • Basics of the health office
  • Physiology and anatomy basics
  • Health information management
  • Medical billing, coding and insurance
  • Legal issues in a medical setting
  • Procedure coding

Online Course Info

Several schools offer the associate's degree through a distance-education program. Online programs offer courses similar to traditional classes and may offer specialized courses, including pathophysiology and corresponding laboratory courses, for example. Schools design programs for working professionals and you may encounter accelerated degrees that you can complete in 16 months.

Stand Out with This Degree

Technology plays a significant role in the daily operations of a health facility. Consequently, increasing your understanding of medical office technologies and their usage in information management may increase your job prospects. Employers prefer certified candidates for medical records and health information technicians.

During your studies, take courses in health information and records management. Inquire about preparing for industry certifications, such as the Registered Health Information Technician certification conferred by the American Health Information Management Association. Keep in mind that some certifications require that candidates graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Bachelor's in Medical Office Administration

The bachelor's degree program emphasizes management skills through training in health information systems, financial management and human services. You will learn to understand ethics, law and healthcare delivery functions. The curriculum places emphasis on leadership, management, cultural diversity and public health issues. The bachelor's degree program will prepare you for entry-level management opportunities. The curriculum reflects the focus on administration and management through a series of courses in human resources, communication and healthcare finance. Programs often provide a number of electives that allow you to select a specialization. Keep in mind that each state enforces its own licensing regulations for health services administrators. Each state requires that nursing facility administrators obtain the appropriate licensing and each state enforces its own requirements.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Graduates of bachelor's degree programs earn a competitive salary e.g., medical and health services managers earned a mean wage of about $96,000 annually*
  • Multiple electives provide a well-rounded education with a strong area of emphasis, which offers opportunity for advancement
  • The mix of business and technology courses will provide career opportunities outside of the health services industry

Cons

  • Competition against candidates with a master's degree may present a challenge
  • Associate's degree holders may obtain medical and health services manager positions based on experience, specialization and training
  • Seeking licensing or continuing education coursework will add time to your training

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program offers the basic training required for entry-level, mid-management or management positions. Programs emphasize a range of health business concepts, ethics and government regulations. You will take approximately 120 credits in general education, subject matter and elective courses. Some programs offer an internship, field experience or capstone project, which allows you to blend your knowledge with practical skills.

You will learn to function in a supervisory or management role, manage health services and understand the human body through a range of courses. Programs include courses in drug administration, medical records and terminology, phlebotomy, management principles, human resource management, leadership and research methods in health science.

Online Course Info

Several colleges and universities offer online degrees in health services administration. Schools offer online programs through a complete or hybrid distance-education experience. Courses are similar in nature to traditional programs and offer a range of electives. Keep in mind that some programs require the completion of an associate's degree in a closely related discipline prior to admission.

Stand Out with This Degree

Specialization can make your resume more marketable. For example, seeking work in a physical therapy or nursing facility may boost your employment prospects. Just like with the associate's degree, you may want to consider industry-standard certifications that validate your expertise as a medical office staffer. Taking advantage of internships and field experiences during your studies will boost your practical training when you enter the job market.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences
  • Sioux City, IA

    Western Iowa Tech Community College

  • Goldsboro, NC

    Wayne Community College

  • Orrville, OH

    University of Akron Wayne College

  • Wilson, NC

    Wilson Community College

  • Akron, OH

    University of Akron Main Campus

  • Polkton, NC

    South Piedmont Community College

  • Pinehurst, NC

    Sandhills Community College

Featured Schools

Herzing University

  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Associate: Healthcare Management
  • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
  • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding

What is your highest level of education?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. General Studies - Life Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Wayne Community College

University of Akron Wayne College

Wilson Community College

University of Akron Main Campus