Associate's degree programs in business office administration with a specialization in medical office management are designed to equip students with a range of skills integral to office management in healthcare organizations, such as billing and coding. Students can learn to transcribe physicians' dictation, record and encode medical diagnoses, and supervise office personnel. However, it is important to note that programs in this field are more commonly offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels because they cover management and personnel supervision topics.
Associate's Degree in Health Services
While earning an associate's degree in health services administration, students can learn about topics specific to the healthcare field as well as basic business and administrative skills. Students might also take courses in computer technology, mathematics and technical writing. Examples of topics addressed in common coursework include:
- Health care management and supervision principles
- Business communication
- Computer fundamentals
- Healthcare finance and accounting
- Medical terminology
- Medical insurance billing and coding
Popular Career Options
Health service administrators can work in a variety of health care facilities, including outpatient care centers, small clinics, hospitals and nursing homes. Health care organizations that are small in scale and scope may hire individuals who hold relevant associate's degrees to fulfill a variety of organizational and clerical duties in medical offices; larger organizations may prefer to hire individuals who hold bachelor's or master's degrees in healthcare administration. Graduates with associate's degrees can find entry-level employment as:
- Medical secretaries
- Medical transcriptionists
- Medical billers and coders
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 3% decline for medical transcriptionists over the 2018-2028 decade, and the median annual salary for these professionals was $34,770 in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). Very fast growth of 16% is projected for medical secretaries, and their median annual salary in May 2018 was $35,760.
Continuing Education Information
Students might wish to enrich their knowledge and broaden their career options by earning a bachelor's degree in health services administration. While there is overlap in the curricula of associate's and bachelor's degree programs, programs that award bachelor's degrees typically require more courses in business administration, accounting and healthcare policy. Bachelor's degree programs might also require more general courses in analytical and expository writing, mathematics and computer technology.
Working as a health services manager usually requires a master's degree. You'll also need to become licensed if you work in a nursing care facility or, in some states, an assisted-living facility. Licensing requires a bachelor's degree, a passing score on the state licensing exam and completion of a health services administration training program that is approved by the state.
If you want to work in health services administration, an associate's degree can provide a relevant introduction to the field. Graduates can seek entry-level administrative work at healthcare institutions or enroll in a bachelor's degree program in the subject.