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Career Info for a Degree in Alternative Medical Support Services

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an alternative medical support services professional. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training and job duties to find out if this is the career for you.

Medical assistants, medical secretaries and medical coders can all choose to work as alternative medical support services professionals. These positions typically require completion of a formal training program from a community college or vocational school before pursuing additional studies in alternative healthcare. Professional certification may also be an option for medical assistants and medical coders.

Essential Information

Healthcare support workers who are interested in alternative medicine often benefit from receiving additional training in complementary and holistic therapies. These workers have the option of completing standard training in their field and then pursuing continuing education in alternative healthcare modalities.

Recommended Education Certification through vocational school or community colleges
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 23% for medical assistants, 21% for medical secretaries, 15% for medical coders
Median Salary (2015)* $30,590 for medical assistants, $33,040 for medical secretaries, $37,110 for medical coders

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics

Degrees and Certifications in Alternative Medical Support Services

While no formal degree programs or certifications exist in alternative medical support services, several credentialing options do exist for those who want to provide support services in an alternative medical practice or clinic. In some areas, vocational schools and community colleges offer certificate programs in support professions, such as medical assisting, that include training in holistic medicine. Another option is completing the required training for a medical support service career, earning any necessary certifications, and then enrolling in holistic medicine continuing education classes or certificate programs.

Careers

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants provide support services in hospitals, doctor's offices and other healthcare settings. Some medical assistants specialize in performing administrative support services, while others perform clinical duties, such as updating patient charts, taking a patient's vital signs or, if permitted by state law, drawing blood.

Education and Credentialing Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical assisting is not a licensed profession, although many employers prefer to hire medical assistants who have completed a formal training program (www.bls.gov). Medical assistants can also earn professional certification through organizations such as the Association of Medical Technologists (AMT) and the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

Salary and Job Prospects

The BLS predicted excellent job prospects for medical assistants between 2014 and 2024 and an increase in employment of 23%. As of May 2015, the median salary for medical assistants was $30,590.

Medical Secretary

Medical secretaries perform administrative tasks in medical and healthcare practices and institutions. Depending on the size of the practice or business, a medical secretary may schedule appointments, greet patients and perform back office tasks such as billing and maintaining patient charts.

Education and Credentialing Requirements

According to the BLS, medical secretaries often complete specialized education programs offered by vocational schools and community colleges. Certification options include the Medical Administrative Specialist designation from American Medical Technologists, which is specifically geared toward medical office administration professionals, as well as the Certified Professional Secretary and the Certified Administrative Professional designations, both of which are available to secretaries in any industry.

Salary and Job Prospects

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for medical secretaries as of May 2015 was $33,040. The BLS predicted a high rate of employment growth for medical secretaries, at a rate of 21% between 2014 and 2024.

Medical Billing Coder

Medical billing coders prepare insurance reimbursement forms by assigning codes to various medical procedures and services, according to the BLS. Coders use specialized software to do this and may often need to use several different coding systems, each corresponding to the context in which the patient received healthcare services.

Education and Credentialing Requirements

The BLS states that coders usually have an associate's degree in medical billing and coding. They may also hold certification from a professional association for medical support professionals, such as the American Academy of Professional Coders, Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists or Board of Medical Specialty Coding.

Salary and Job Prospects

The BLS considers medical billing coders to be a subset of the medical records and health information technician profession. The median salary for medical records and health information technicians as of May 2015 was $37,110. The job prospects for people in this industry were expected to be very good between 2014 and 2024, with employment increasing by 15% during this time.

Medical billing coders look after insurance billing information and provide codes for services provided, while medical secretaries perform clerical tasks such as filing, completing paperwork and scheduling appointments. Medical assistants perform some basic assessments of patients, such as taking their blood pressure or updating charts. These medical professionals can opt to work in the field of alternative medicine and can expect that from 2014 to 2024 they will enjoy job growth rates that are much higher than the national average of 7%.

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