Online Diplomas and Certificates in a Medical Field: Program Info

Dec 02, 2019

Get info about online diploma and certificate programs in the medical field. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Diploma programs in licensed practical nursing are available in online formats that may require an in-person internship or practicum experience. Licensed practical nurses are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN), so look for programs that prepare you to take the exam.

Fully online diploma and certificate programs in medical office administration are also available, and so are hybrid programs that allow some coursework to be completed online. For medical records and health information technicians, some employers require professional certification, which may require graduation from an accredited program, depending upon the certifying organization.

Diploma in Practical Nursing

Online practical nursing diploma programs teach students basic nursing concepts and skills. These programs are typically offered through a school's health science department, but many schools have specific departments dedicated to nursing. Students can complete the online diploma in anywhere from six months to two years. Graduates of the program are prepared to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN) which is a requirement for a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

Program Information and Requirements

Practical nursing diploma programs typically require one year of study and consist of an average of 40-course credit hours. Program prerequisites can include medical terminology, computer technology and nursing assistant courses as well as general science courses such as biology and anatomy.

While all coursework in these programs is delivered online, most contain clinics that must be completed in person. Each school's in-person requirements vary in length and frequency. Online coursework requires no additional hardware, but students may need specialized software for certain classes.

Course Topics

The coursework for online practical nursing diploma programs is designed to provide students with an introduction to nursing and prepare students for the NCLEX-PN examination. Most credits earned in diploma programs are transferable to associate's degree nursing programs.


This class covers the different types of drugs commonly used to sedate, reduce pain and treat patients. The side effects of these drugs and alternative drugs choices are discussed.

Family Nursing

Students in this course are introduced to the techniques and procedures for caring for the childbearing family. Instruction includes the psychological and normal bodily conditions that occur in pregnancy. Patient growth from infancy to adulthood is discussed.

Principles and Practices of Nursing

This course provides students with a broad spectrum of techniques used by practicing nurses. Topics covered include basic human nutrition, fluid, sleep and psychological needs. Critical thinking and communication skills, medical documentation and confidentiality are covered in coursework.

Diploma and Certificate in Medical Office Administration and Coding

Diploma and certificate programs in medical office administration are part of a school's health science or health technology departments. Both programs instruct students in general office procedures, basic patient record keeping and procedures for filing insurance claims. Coursework in the different programs is often similar, with diploma programs requiring more credit course hours and provide in-depth coverage of office administration and coding procedures. Graduates of diploma programs are able to sit for the Certified Professional Coder examination offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (

Program Information and Requirements

Medical office administration diploma programs consist of approximately 40-course credit hours and typically require one year of study. Certificate programs in the field are often shorter, requiring an average of 20 credit hours and two semesters of study. Instruction covers topics such as office protocol, patient orientation, insurance coding and medical terminology. Programs are offered completely online and do not require specific computer hardware or software components.

Course Topics

Medical office administration and coding diploma and certificate programs teach students medical ethics and laws, billing procedures and other techniques specific to working in a medical office. In diploma programs, students may be required to complete general education courses such as composition, computer science and public speaking.

Medical Insurance Coding

This course teaches students advanced diagnostic procedures, with a focus on outpatient facilities. Students are taught the basic codes commonly used in the medical field as well as more advanced codes used in specialists' offices.

Medical Document Production

This course introduces students to creating and processing medical documents, including test and lab reports, patient history and patient files. Coursework focuses on accuracy and usability of paperwork created inside a medical office.

Administrative Office Protocol

Students in this course are introduced to medical office procedures such as appointment processing, medical records upkeep and office safety. Techniques for interviewing patients are also covered in this course.

Career Information

Graduates of a practical nursing diploma program can work as a LPN. Practical nurses care for patients under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2018 licensed practical nurses earned an average annual salary of approximately $47,050 (

Graduates of diploma or certificate programs in this field typically go on to work as medical assistants or medical records clerks. Medical assistants do administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments and bookkeeping, in a medical office, while medical records clerk gathers patient medical records, including previous treatments, physician visits and general medical history. The BLS reports that as recently as of May 2018 medical records and health information technicians earned an average yearly salary of $44,010, while medical assistants earned an average of $34,540.

Continuing Education Information

States require practical nurses to be licensed. Licensure requires completion of an accredited program and passing the NCLEX-PN exam. A graduate of a nursing program can also continue his or her education and earn an associate's degree in nursing or a related field such as healthcare administration. These programs typically require two or more years of study and are offered partially or totally online.

There are no continuing education requirements for students of a medical office administration diploma program to work as a records clerk or office manager; however, to manage larger facilities, students may choose to continue their education to earn an associate's degree in business management. These programs are offered online and can prepare students for bachelor's degree programs in related fields.

Online programs are offered in the medical field, examples of these include diplomas and certificates in practical nursing and medical office administration. The former prepares students for licensure as practical nurses, whereas graduates of the latter can find work medical assistants or medical records clerks.

Next: View Schools

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?