Associate of Applied Science in Medical Secretary & Assistant

Oct 15, 2019

There are separate Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs for aspiring medical secretaries and medical assistants. Learn more about each to decide which one best fits your educational needs and career goals.

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Essential Information

Medical secretary or medical office administration AAS programs train students to perform clerical tasks, such as scheduling patient appointments and managing records in the front office of a medical facility. On the other hand, a medical assistant AAS program has a more clinical approach, where students learn to assist healthcare practitioners with basic medical procedures, like preparing instruments or taking vital signs.

Both programs call for a high school diploma or its GED equivalent in order to apply. Both programs take two years to complete, and many require hands-on training in a medical office.

Medical Secretary Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree

A medical secretary or administrative assistant AAS program trains students to manage the day-to-day routines of healthcare facilities, medical and dental offices, clinics, or other health-related institutions. Students study computer applications used in medical office settings in order to schedule patient appointments as well as handle medical transcription, coding, and billing. Medical secretaries assist healthcare staff with the business aspects of patient interactions. A typical degree program includes courses in:

  • Medical records management
  • Inpatient and outpatient coding
  • Business communications and office procedures
  • Medical transcription and keyboarding
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology

Medical Assistant Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree

AAS programs in medical assisting train students to perform administrative and clinical duties in a healthcare facility. Students learn basic office procedures; however, they also learn to assist with a variety of in-office examination techniques and procedures. Students learn appropriate medical language and biological concepts to effectively assess a patient's vital signs, collect blood or other samples, sterilize instruments, and assist medical staff. Medical assistant programs include medical secretarial coursework in addition to clinical and laboratory classes. Courses include:

  • Clinical and laboratory procedures
  • Phlebotomy and pharmacology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Office administration
  • Medical coding, transcription, or billing

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of May 2018, medical secretaries earned a mean annual salary of $37,090 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicts favorable job prospects for medical assistants, with a projected growth rate of 23% from 2018 to 2028. This growth may be attributed to industry advances and demand, as well as to the need to treat a growing elderly population and streamline the administration of healthcare. The BLS reported an average annual wage for medical assistants of $34,540 in May 2018.

Certification Information

Medical assistants can obtain professional certification to demonstrate competency in healthcare delivery and enhance their job opportunities. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) credential for individuals who pass an examination. The Association of Medical Technologists also offers certification for medical assistants.

Whether you want to become a medical secretary or a medical assistant, an AAS program can provide you with the basic training you need for success.

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