Online Healthcare Management Associate Degree

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Earning an online healthcare management associate degree is the first step toward meaningful employment as an administrator or leader in a hospital, physician's office, or other medical care facility. With an associate degree in the field, professionals can find employment as office managers, secretaries, and transcriptionists in medical settings. Ideal for those who pay close attention to detail, these roles are crucial in ensuring that the daily operations of medical offices run smoothly.

As older generations live longer and preventative care is emphasized, roles for these administrative managers will continue growing. Employment as a clerk or administrative assistant in a medical setting can help professionals familiarize themselves with the job environment and relevant medical terminology. A student with an associate degree can often transfer their credits to a related bachelor's degree in the field to expand their earning potential and job responsibilities.

Keep reading to learn more about what is required to earn this degree, how long it takes, common coursework, job and salary outlooks, and scholarships to help lessen the financial burden of completing higher education.

Earning Your Associate in Healthcare Management Online

When considering options for completing a degree, students can choose from traditional, campus-based coursework or online learning. For many learners, balancing professional, personal, and academic responsibilities can feel overwhelming. An online healthcare management associate degree path can help to lessen this stress by providing flexibility and affordability.

Online programs allow degree seekers to work from the comfort of home, negating the need to drive to campus. Many also allow asynchronous learning, meaning students can watch recorded lectures and complete assignments at times that work with their schedules. Because they don't need to visit campus, learners save on things like additional rent, parking, meal plans, and transportation.

If a program mandates an internship, students can complete these at approved sites near their places of residence. Learners can take most exams online, but a school may occasionally assign a local proctor to oversee in-person testing.

How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Healthcare Management Associate Degree Online?

The time required to complete a healthcare management associate degree online may vary, according to two factors. If studying on a full-time basis, degree seekers usually need two years to graduate, while part-time learners typically need three years. If a student already took several advanced placement courses in high school, it may be possible to graduate in 12-18 months. Most programs mandate a total of 60 credits.

Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Healthcare Management

Admission requirements at this level vary based on individual school requirements, but most of them set a similar framework of obligations. Each learner should possess a high school diploma or GED and submit transcripts from any high school or college they have previously attended. Some schools may require applicants to provide ACT or SAT scores, while other institutions waive this step. Other programs ask each student to write a personal statement discussing why they want to earn the degree and how they hope to use it in the future.

Regardless of institution, all students must fill out an application and typically pay an application fee unless they receive a waiver.

Courses in an Online Associate in Healthcare Management Program

Students who enroll in online healthcare management associate degrees can graduate with the foundational skills and competencies needed to take on entry-level, non-managerial positions. These programs tend to straddle the line between teaching students about medical fundamentals (e.g., medical terminology, anatomy) and business skills (e.g., business management, interpersonal communication) to ensure they understand all functions of their future careers. Review the courses below for a sense of what to expect, but remember that each school maintains a unique curriculum.

  • Medical Terminology: This class teaches learners about basic terms used in the medical world, with special emphasis on the overall bodily structure. Upon finishing the course, learners should possess a basic understanding of muscular, skeletal, integumentary, immune, lymphatic, cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive, digestive, and nervous systems.

  • Foundations of Management: Students in this class explore fundamental methodologies and theories surrounding management and leadership. They learn about strategic planning, human resources, managing diverse groups, leading change and innovation, encouraging employee performance, and overseeing decision-making processes.

  • Medical Office Management: This specialized class takes a deeper look into how medical offices function. Students cover topics such as the management of medical records, working with insurance companies, filing claims, coding clinical services, medical ethics and liabilities, and managing communications within a large medical group effectively.

  • Anatomy and Physiology: With a focus on ensuring students will understand the basics of bodily functions, this course provides an overview of various systems and structures within the human form. This knowledge proves particularly helpful when creating medical files and coding for procedures.

  • Human Resource Management: A healthcare manager commonly oversees a large staff of professionals. Because of this, individuals in these roles must understand human resources. Topics covered in this class include recruiting and hiring, managing and encouraging performance, implementing training programs, setting compensation, managing payroll, and understanding benefits packages.

Job and Salary Outlook for Online Associate in Healthcare Management Graduates

Whether a student decides to leave education once they gain an online associate degree in healthcare management or plan to continue into a bachelor's program and beyond, there are many roles for those with this degree. Given the administrative nature of healthcare management, the majority of professionals enjoy standard eight-hour days. They also employ multitasking skills, working with a variety of personalities, and thinking on their feet to solve complex problems.

Secretary and Administrative Assistant

Median Salary: $38,880

These professionals work in many professional settings to ensure offices run smoothly. They answer telephone calls, prepare conference rooms, schedule meetings, manage calendars, process incoming and outgoing mail, oversee budgets, edit documents, create and maintain databases, and create documents for meetings and clients.

General Office Clerk

Median Salary: $32,730

Similar to administrative assistants, clerks work to ensure their offices run smoothly. They perform data entry, process payments, file documents, answer the telephone, type and format documents, welcome customers, and manage calendars.

Medical Transcriptionist

Median Salary: $34,770

Also known as healthcare documentation specialists, these professionals review recorded notes from doctors and other healthcare professionals before transcribing them. They may edit for clarity, add these notes to patients' medical histories, and submit them to doctors. Transcriptionists must also understand medical terminology to write everything long-form, rather than using jargon.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accreditation for a Healthcare Management Degree Online Program

Finding an accredited online associate degree in healthcare management is one of the most important steps a prospective degree-seeker can take. Accreditation is an important component of the decision-making process, as it signals to other schools, employers, and licensing boards that a student was educated by a school that meets certain standards.

The two different types of accreditation are institutional and programmatic. Within institutional, two subtypes exist: regional and national. While national sounds like a more impressive distinction, schools with regional accreditation undergo a more rigorous process to receive accreditation.

Programmatic accreditation does not exist at the associate level, but learners aspiring to bachelor's degrees can look for programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.

Failing to attend an accredited program can cause issues over time. Learners may struggle to transfer credits to a regionally accredited program, find it difficult to compete against job candidates from regionally accredited schools, or struggle to seek certifications in the future. Speak with admissions counselors to learn about the accreditation status of any school you consider attending.

Online Associate in Healthcare Management Scholarships

Even when attending a local community college, attaining a degree costs thousands of dollars. For many learners, paying these fees proves challenging. Before seeking out loans, degree seekers should try to exhaust scholarship and grant opportunities. These funds do not require repayment, making it well worth a student's effort to find and apply for as many as possible. Review those highlighted below, but conduct additional research to find more opportunities.