Online associate's degree programs in medical administrative assisting are relatively easy to find. Though the coursework is typically all offered online, some programs may require students to complete a local internship.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many medical administrative assistants learn their job skills through on-the-job training. However, students may benefit from professional certification, and certifying bodies may require the applicant to have graduated from an accredited program.
Medical Administrative Assistant Associate's Degree
Associate's degree programs for students looking to become medical administrative assistants cover the business skills required of an office administrator as well as the medical knowledge needed to function effectively in a health care environment. Medical administrative assistants deal directly with patients and perform reception, checkout and scheduling functions.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required to enter associate's degree programs for medical administrative assistants, and some familiarity with medical science would be helpful. Online programs are readily available, and may be described as medical administration, medical office management, health care administration and health care management.
Information and Requirements
Distance learning medical administrative assistant programs can generally be completed in 18-24 months, depending upon the student's pace and course availability. Most programs are fully online, although some electives may require visits to the school's campus or a short internship in a medical office near the student's home.
Students will need access to a computer with multimedia capabilities as well as a fast Internet connection in order to participate in online classes, communicate with instructors, submit assignments and take exams. Distance learning students may find that their online computer experience helps prepare them for using computer applications in medical office scheduling, medical records, transcription and billing.
Course and Class Information
Online medical administrative assistant associate's programs generally require one quarter of the students' course load to be in general education classes, with the rest in business, technical and medical subjects. Typical courses include:
The ability to understand medical terminology is important to a medical administrative assistant. This course acquaints students with basic anatomical and physiological terms, as well as symptoms, diagnoses, procedures, therapies and pharmaceuticals.
Students review common word-processing software applications, as well as manual and digital methods of document filing and retrieval. Different handling may be required for separate document types, including text files, images and database records.
Health Care Reimbursement
The accurate capture and processing of billable visits and procedures is vital to a successful medical practice. Students in this class learn about different health insurance providers and procedures. Basic concepts in billing and accounting are also reviewed.
Medical Records Management
The management of medical records is governed by medical necessity, billing needs and government legislation. Students receive a background in the different types of medical records, the data required by each for medical, billing and legal purposes, and the rules governing the storage and handling of medical documents.
The release of medical information is extremely sensitive, and subject to strict federal regulation. Students learn proper procedures for handling and disseminating medical information.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job opportunities for medical assistants, including medical administrative assistants and clinical assistants, will grow by 23% between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, as the health care industry continues to expand. Medical assistants with formal training and certification are expected to have the greatest job opportunities. The median annual salary for medical assistants was $30,590 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Medical administrative assistants frequently have the option to apply most, if not all, of the credits from their associate's degree toward a bachelor's degree in health care administration or a related degree program. On-the-job training and continuing education are other common ways for medical assistants to stay current and improve their employment opportunities.
Several professional organizations award exam-based certification to medical administrative assistants, including the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and Association of Medical Technologists (AMT). Certifications are valid for 3-5 years, depending upon the certification agency, and can be renewed through a combination of industry-related work and continuing education credits.
Several schools offer fully online associate's programs in medical administrative assisting. Students learn the skills of an office administrator, as well as the medical knowledge needed when working in a healthcare environment.