What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Medical Office Administration Program?
Online associate degree programs in medical office administration give students a broad introduction to the healthcare system's functions, laws, and ethics. Learners are also prepared medical administration work through coursework in medical terminology, coding systems, billing processes, customer service, and scheduling systems.
Graduates are prepared to excel as healthcare professionals who ensure the accuracy, efficiency, and safety of medical offices and records.
Common Classes and Coursework
This course familiarizes students with the history and function of the America's complex healthcare system. Students learn to navigate and communicate with the system's multiple branches and how to follow necessary protocols and processing steps.
This course covers medical coding concepts and systems for filing insurance claims, completing forms, and processing billing. Students examine how to assign codes for illnesses and medical services as well as how to follow billing guidelines for inpatient and outpatient procedures.
Customer service courses familiarize students with general and healthcare-specific customer service practices and policies. Students learn to communicate effectively with upset clients and to address complicated insurance and billing issues.
This course introduces students to healthcare law and its influence on healthcare business. Learners are also readied to cope with legal issues and ethical dilemmas that often arise in the medical profession.
This course outlines the scheduling software, industry standards, and common practices necessary for making medical appointments.
Skills You Will Gain
Students in online associate degree programs in medical office administration learn general skills such as communication, analysis, critical thinking, and customer service. However, they also gain medical-office-specific skills, such as following medical office procedures and policies, medical data input and communication, billing and coding, scheduling, medical terminology, and healthcare system navigation.
Online associate degree programs in medical office administration also emphasize development of advanced problem-solving and customer service skills that medical administrators use every day.
Average Degree Length
Online degrees have the advantage of flexible scheduling and usually cost less than on-campus degrees. As a result, pursuing a medical office administration associate degree online can be advantageous to those seeking to enter the field quickly without incurring substantial debt.
An online associate degree program in medical office administration consists of about 60-64 credits. Most full-time learners can earn their associate degrees in medical office administration in about two years.
However, some programs allow students to graduate sooner by attending classes during the summer or by taking accelerated classes. Students with prior relevant work experience can sometimes receive credit toward their degrees, too. Reducing the length of a degree has the added benefit of reducing overall tuition costs.
Career Opportunities With an Associate Degree in Medical Office Administration
An online associate degree in medical office administration prepares graduates for entry-level administrative positions such as office manager, administrative assistant, billing clerk, health information technician, and receptionist. Entry-level positions typically pay between $33,000-40,000, while management positions pay considerably more. Those seeking higher salaries and greater specialization often use their associate degree programs as springboards toward more advanced degrees in a related field.
In addition to introducing some of the potential careers, scholarships, and bachelor's degrees available to those with associate degrees in medical office administration, the following sections describe professional organizations that provide resources and credentialing opportunities for those planning careers in this field.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Graduates with an associate degree in medical office administration often work in doctor's offices, dental offices, hospitals, laboratories, or medical and mental health clinics. However, many of the core customer service, communications, scheduling, data entry, and billing skills obtained through these degree programs are transferable to other industries. These include retail, education, finance and banking, real estate, manufacturing, and transportation.
- Administrative Assistant
Administrative assistants can work in many industries. In the healthcare industry, administrative assistants typically handle appointment scheduling, data entry, customer service, and communications.
Average Annual Salary: $38,880
- Medical Assistant
Medical assistants often serve patients directly by recording health histories, vital signs, and other medical information.
Average Annual Salary: $33,610
- Medical Records Technician
Medical records or health information technicians enter patient data electronically and using paper forms. These technicians safeguard the privacy and accuracy of patient information.
Average Annual Salary: $40,350
- Administrative Services Manager
Administrative services managers often work in doctor's offices, hospitals, and other healthcare contexts. These professionals supervise administrative assistants in producing efficient and thorough data entry and communications. Administrative service managers also manage exam scheduling, patient billing, and insurance contracting.
Average Annual Salary: $96,180
- Medical Transcriptionist
Medical transcriptionists transcribe recordings of other medical professionals and turn these transcriptions into reports. Transcriptionists need to understand medical terminology as well as medical documentation ethics and legal concerns.
Average Annual Salary: $34,770
Five Medical Office Administration Scholarships to Apply For
Although online associate degrees are typically more affordable than on-campus degrees, those looking to save additional money on their education can apply for scholarships. Scholarships may be offered by schools, employers, professional organizations, foundations, or private citizens. Some students pursuing degrees in medical office administration qualify for scholarships such as the ones described below.
- Who Can Apply: ASAHP considers currently enrolled students who are pursuing an entry-level career and are finished with at least one semester of coursework at an ASAHP member school.
- Amount: $1,000
- Who Can Apply: Students in financial need who are currently enrolled in an AMT-certified discipline qualify for this scholarship.
- Amount: $500
- Who Can Apply: Alpha Sigma Lambda offers this scholarship to adult students with at least 24 completed credits and a 3.2+ GPA who are attending schools with Alpha Sigma
- Amount: $3,500
- Who Can Apply: Recovery Village welcomes scholarship applications from U.S. citizens or permanent residents seeking health-related degrees.
- Amount: $1,000
- Who Can Apply: Hawaii residents pursuing a health-related undergraduate degree may apply for the Robanna Fund. They must demonstrate full-time student status, have a 2.7 or higher GPA, and show proof of financial need.
- Amount: Varies
Educational Advancement in Medical Office Administration
After completing an online associate degree in medical office administration, learners who want further specialization or higher salaries often pursue a bachelor's degree. Possessing an online associate degree in medical office administration makes candidates more attractive to prospective bachelor's degree programs in related fields.
Additionally, several medical office administration core courses may count toward bachelor's degree requirements. Students should ensure that the school granting the associate degree holds equivalent accreditation standards to the school offering the bachelor's degree.
Should You Transfer to a Four-Year Degree Program?
As learners explore their options for bachelor's programs, they should consult with college advisors to ensure compatibility. For example, some schools have transfer agreements with one another that allow for smoother credit transfers.
Accreditation standards are also an important aspect of credit transfer. Students should ensure that their associate degree schools and programs hold similar accreditation to the bachelor's programs they wish to attend.
What Degree Paths Should You Consider?
Those interested in medical administration typically opt for a bachelor's in health or business administration, while those interested in medicine and patient care often pursue a bachelor's in nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those working in medical administration, nursing, or business administration make significantly higher salaries than those in entry-level medical office administrative jobs.
Business Administration (Healthcare Track)
A business administration bachelor's degree prepares students for leadership or management roles in a variety of industries. Many programs include a healthcare track in which students learn specialized information particular to administration of healthcare facilities, companies, and organizations.
A bachelor's degree in medical administration prepares graduates for managerial positions at medical facilities. This degree familiarizes students with medical law and business, as well as with the ways these dimensions inform daily medical practice and procedure.
An online associate in medical office administration provides a foundation in medical systems and terminology that can be helpful to students pursuing a bachelor's degree in nursing.
Professional Organizations and Resources
The following list of professional organizations and resources offer continuing education and networking opportunities, cutting-edge research, information on industry trends, job opportunities, and other useful tools designed for medical office administration students and professionals.
AHIMA and its 52 state affiliates offer credentialing programs, online education, and academic publications. AHIMA's student and career center connects students with their peers and with tools for planning their careers.
AAHAM familiarizes its members with various aspects of the healthcare revenue cycle, including patient relations, admitting and registration, medical records, data management, and reimbursement. AAHAM also develops professionals' careers by offering continuing education, certification programs, networking, conferences, and publications.
Designed to benefit medical office managers, PAHCOM provides continuing education, certification, and conferences.
ACHA features certification programs, networking opportunities, and scholarships for administrators and students.
ACHE advances the careers and performance of healthcare administrators by providing them with relevant education programs and cutting-edge research.
ARMA certifies and registers medical assistants who qualify as part of a medical team. Medical assistants maintain ARMA membership by completing 12 continuing education units each year.
AHCAP, a nonprofit organization for healthcare assistants, provides members with tuition discounts, webinars, a discussion forum, a job bank, a book club, and a conference designed specifically for healthcare administration professionals. AHCAP also offers educational and technological resources.
HBMA offers various networking events and services, including a message board that provides answers to questions on coding, billing, and research.
This professional development association offers training opportunities such as seminars, online courses, certification opportunities, and conferences.
NAHAM promotes best practices and expertise in healthcare by supporting professionals through continuing education, certification, and networking opportunities.