Guide to Getting Your Medical Office Administration Associate Degree Online
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Medical office administrators are in the front lines of hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices, and dental offices. They provide administrative and managerial support for the medical professionals they work with in many ways. Specific occupation titles vary — records and billing clerks, receptionists, office managers, administrative assistants — but daily activities typically include greeting patients, answering phones, managing records, scheduling appointments, and handling insurance filing and billing.
If you want to earn an associate degree in medical office administration online, here are some things to keep in mind:
Earning Your Associate in Medical Office Administration Online
When it comes to earning a college education, the advent of online learning has changed the game entirely. Many online schools use asynchronous learning to enhance program flexibility. In this format, students never need to attend class at set times — they access class lectures and course materials at their convenience. This format benefits working professionals and individuals with children and families.
Along with added flexibility, online learning offers affordability. While tuition costs remain comparable to on-campus classes, online students save money by avoiding commutes and on-campus housing.
How Long Does It Take to Earn Your Medical Office Administration Associate Degree Online?
The amount of time it takes you to earn your online associate degree in medical office administration varies depending on whether you attend classes part-time or full-time. Most programs require a total of 62-76 credits, and if you attend full time, you will take 12-15 credits of coursework at a time. With that schedule, you will finish within two academic years.
If attending school part-time is a better option for you, you can expect your degree to take longer — up to 5-6 years, if you take 1-2 classes each semester. This is a general estimate, though. Your school's requirements may allow you additional space to craft your schedule as you see fit.
Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Medical Office Administration
Admission requirements for online associate degrees vary depending on the school you are applying for, but there are some basic standards. You will need to have either a high school diploma or a GED credential. For schools with an open admissions or "open door" policy — most common with community colleges and technical schools — proof of a high school education alone makes an applicant eligible for enrollment.
Other institutions require a minimum GPA of 2.0-3.0 and recent ACT or SAT scores. If you are a transfer student or native of a country other than the U.S., you may be able to obtain a waiver for the standardized test score requirement.
Along with a completed application, be prepared to supply copies of your high school and college transcripts, if applicable.
Courses in an Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Program
Medical office administrators work in a wide range of settings and their job descriptions may vary depending on the needs of their organization.
Students will take general education and core courses to help them learn analytical, critical thinking skills, communication, and customer service skills. However, here are some program-specific courses you can expect to take:
You will learn the meanings of common words used in medical settings through the study of prefixes, suffixes, and word roots. Students learn to pronounce, spell, and define words relating to anatomy, physiology, disorders, conditions, and treatments.
This vital course introduces students to the complex set of legal, moral, and ethical issues involved in providing healthcare services. Topics include legal requirements of medical offices, the doctor-patient relationship, professional liability, and medical practice liability. Students develop a working knowledge of medical law and acceptable ethical behavior.
Job and Salary Outlook for Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Graduates
Depending on the employer's needs, an entry-level position may focus primarily on general office procedures, or they may involve more specialized tasks, such as medical coding or insurance billing. Successful medical office administrators possess excellent problem-solving skills, enjoy helping others, and understand the importance of following set policies and procedures.
Potential Careers and Salaries
General office clerks perform multiple administrative tasks in an office environment, including receiving customers, answering phones, and filing records. An associate degree in medical office administration provides job candidates with the knowledge and skills required to keep up with employers' and patients' needs. Your education as a medical office administrator will also teach you skills that transfer to other positions outside the medical world.
Median Salary: $35,330
In a healthcare setting, information clerks complete clerical tasks to manage patient medical records. Duties may include compiling, evaluating, coding, and organizing. Medical information clerks utilize multiple classification systems and storage and retrieval systems to complete their work. An associate degree prepares graduates for these responsibilities.
Median Salary: $36,920
Medical transcriptionists use physicians' and other medical staff's notes and convert them into reports. Transcriptionists may also review and edit reports created using voice recognition software. An associate degree prepares graduates to decipher medical terminology and understand the legal and ethical issues of healthcare documentation.
Median Salary: $35,270
Medical records and health information specialists organize and code health data. They work with a range of classification systems, reviewing patient records and electronically recording data while maintaining confidentiality. They may work with nurses and other healthcare professionals to clarify and correct records or interact with insurance agents and accountants regarding billing questions.
Median Salary: $45,240
Accreditation for a Medical Office Administration Degree Online Program
When searching for the right medical office administration online program, be sure to review your potential school's accreditation status. Accredited programs have been scrutinized to ensure that they provide a quality education. Independent accrediting agencies look at policies, budgets, faculty, curriculum, student resources, and facilities, and you can be sure that your chosen school has met rigorous standards when it has gone through the accreditation process, ensuring the real-world value of your diploma.
Online Associate in Medical Office Administration Scholarships
One of the benefits of an associate program is that you will likely pay less than you would for a four-year, bachelor-level program.
You can further lower your costs by applying for loans, grants, and scholarships. Students pursuing a medical administration associate degree online can seek out scholarships through their school, employer, third-party organizations, company foundations, and funds put together by private citizens.
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include students enrolled in an approved health discipline who have completed at least one semester at an ASAHP member institution in pursuit of an entry-level career.
Amount: two $1,000 awards
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include residents of Hawaii enrolled full-time in a health-related undergraduate program either in Hawaii or on the mainland U.S. Applicants must possess a minimum 2.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need.
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include graduates of accredited high schools, GED-holders, or certified AMT members with financial need, currently enrolled in a program leading to a career in one of the disciplines certified by AMT (i.e., Medical Administrative Specialist).
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants include adult students attending an institution with an Alpha Sigma Lambda chapter (applicants need not be members) who have completed at least 24 credits with a 3.2 GPA.
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