Medical Administration Degrees: Associate's, Bachelor's & Course Info

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

Medical administration professionals perform a range of administrative and managerial tasks in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare organizations. People in the industry manage healthcare records, insurance claims and the customer experience. Specialists in the field process third-party payments, code medical records and supervise staff. Employers want candidates with a strong understanding of medical terminology, medical ethics and the regulations that govern patient information.

The associate's degree program can prepare you for entry-level administrative positions in a range of healthcare settings. The bachelor's degree program provides the education required for a career in medical administration and management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted average through faster-than-average job growth for positions in the field. Medical secretaries could expect a 12% increase in jobs from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov).

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level jobs in multiple medical settings People interested in a career in upper management
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Medical assistant ($30,000)*
- Medical records and health information technician ($40,000)*
Medical and health services manager ($100,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits- Roughly 120 credits
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 Administration

The associate's degree program provides training in the customer service, office management and communication skills required to deliver administrative support in a medical setting. Many programs provide an education in medical coding and billing procedures. You learn the basic principles of processing health insurance claims and managing electronic health records. Programs emphasize medical business principles, medical terminology, law and ethical practices.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Medical and health information technicians could expect a 21% increase in jobs over the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Many programs transfer to a bachelor's degree program should you decide to continue your education
  • Programs offer a wide range of courses that introduce you to the business, technical and medical principles required in medical settings

Cons

  • Health information positions might require a degree from a Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM) Education-accredited program
  • Medical secretary positions may only require a high school diploma
  • Pursuing professional certification or licensing requires an additional commitment of time and finances

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections).

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program delivers training through general education, subject matter and elective courses in human anatomy, medical technology and ethical practices, to name a few. Some schools offer small classrooms and applied learning opportunities to help students receive the attention they need. Following are some common courses offered by the programs:

  • Managed care concepts
  • Pathophysiology
  • Electronic health records procedures
  • Ambulatory care coding
  • Medical writing
  • Healthcare customer service
  • Healthcare systems

Online Degree Info

The online associate's degree program offers courses similar to campus-based programs. Schools design online programs for working adults or people interested in advancement. You learn about maintaining medical records, implementing computer-based systems and performing financial tasks. Some programs offer a capstone project and courses in business computer systems.

Stand Out with This Degree

Experience and certification can influence access to positions in health records management and administration. Consider taking advantage of capstone projects, field experiences or internships to gain experience. Several organizations offer certification, and employers might prefer candidates with professional credentials. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) designation, which validates a candidate's understanding of medical records procedures. Keep in mind that AHIMA requires that candidates possess a degree accredited by the CAHIIM.

Bachelor's in Medical Administration

The bachelor's degree program emphasizes the knowledge required to pursue a career in the management of medical facilities. Schools generally design multidisciplinary curricula that provide training in business, medical facilities management and information systems. You might take courses that highlight the importance of understanding technology in a medical environment. Some schools require that students successfully pass a background check prior to participating in externships or other field experiences.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Medical and health services managers could see a 22% increase in jobs from 2010-2020*
  • Medical and health services managers earned competitive median annual salaries of $100,000**
  • Bachelor's degree programs offer a gateway to pursue a master's degree should you decide to continue your education

Cons

  • Competition against candidates with a master's degree might present a challenge
  • Experience as a medical administrative assistant might be required for advancement to an administration position
  • Joining associations and seeking licensing or certification requires an additional commitment of time and finances

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 job growth projections), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program delivers a wider range of coursework than an associate's degree program, and some bachelor's-level programs offer the opportunity to specialize. Programs prepare students to perform a range of management tasks, including supervision and financial administration. You take a mix of courses that explore healthcare facility finance, laboratory procedures and human resources management. Some programs prepare students for administration licensing examinations applicable to long-term care facilities. You can expect to take classes in healthcare marketing, strategic management, community health, modality procedures, vital signs, drug administration and pharmacy technology.

Online Degree Info

The online bachelor's degree program delivers training similar to traditional programs. Some online programs offer the option to participate in an externship or capstone project that provides practical experience. Online programs provide flexibility and the ability to work independently through online group discussions, email and interaction with professors and other students.

Stand Out with This Degree

Gaining experience in a specific type of facility might improve job prospects. The BLS reported that demand for medical and health services managers was expected to increase in medical group practices and healthcare practitioner offices. Consider taking an externship in a specific setting, such as a long-term care facility, to gain hands-on experience. In addition, joining a health administration association, such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, demonstrates to employers that you take the industry seriously and provides opportunities for networking, continuing education and certification.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Fremont, OH

    Terra State Community College

  • Bethany, OK

    Southern Nazarene University

  • Lincoln, NE

    Southeast Community College Area

  • Dayton, OH

    Sinclair Community College

  • Gainesville, FL

    Santa Fe College

  • Palatka, FL

    Saint Johns River State College

  • Danielson, CT

    Quinebaug Valley Community College

  • Oklahoma City, OK

    Oklahoma State University

  • Philadelphia, PA

    Philadelphia University

Featured Schools

Herzing University

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

What is your highest level of education?

Terra State Community College

Southern Nazarene University

Southeast Community College Area

Sinclair Community College

Santa Fe College

Saint Johns River State College

Quinebaug Valley Community College