Overview of Online Medical Administrative Assistant Certificate Programs
Online medical administrative assistant certificate programs are designed to equip students with the necessary administrative skills to work office administration roles in the healthcare field. Students in the program learn about a wide range of medical office functions, ranging from records management to insurance procedures. Most of these online certificate programs also help prepare students to take the medical administrative assistant certification exam offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) in order to become a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA).
Medical administrative assistant certificate programs can usually be completed fully online and somel are self-paced to allow students flexibility in their schedules. Depending on the school, online students may also have access to success coaches, online libraries, and other online resources to help successfully complete the program. Programs commonly take around 9 months, but some can be completed in even less time than that. These certificate programs do not usually have any prerequisites or degree requirements for applicants.
Requirements for Medical Administrative Assistant Certificates
To help students prepare for a career as a medical administrative assistant, these online certificate programs train students in the administrative processes and clinical duties, such as recording patient histories, needed to provide organization to a medical office. While these programs are usually fully online, students still receive hands-on training through virtual labs, simulations, and videos.
Online medical administrative assistant certificate programs may range from about 18 to 36 credits. Students typically take a set of core courses with no electives. Some programs may include some sort of orientation course to online learning or an introductory course to allied health to provide students with an overview of the healthcare field.
While not usually required, some of these certificate programs may include a final capstone course. During this capstone course, students may be required to travel to a testing site to sit for the CMAA exam. Some programs may also include practice with the NHA portal to take practice exams and complete other simulated activities to help prepare for the CMAA exam.
Courses in medical assisting are generally designed to provide students with an overview of the career and the role these assistants play in the healthcare system. These courses may introduce students to medical office procedures, specialized options for the career, and explore some of the basic job responsibilities of medical administrative assistants.
In order to work in the healthcare field, students need to understand the basic language and vocabulary to communicate medical information. Courses in medical terminology generally cover terms used on a regular basis for the various body systems, as well as terms used for both physicians and patients.
Students in these programs take courses in medical records to learn about different records management techniques used to keep a medical office organized. Some of these courses may focus exclusively on electronic medical records, but in general, students explore the procedures for maintaining records and/or the basic terminology and methods used in reimbursements and transactions on patient records.
Courses in medical insurance and coding help students understand the coding systems used in the field to bill patients. These courses typically discuss how to fill out an insurance claim, different types of insurance, payment systems, and more.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Medical Administrative Assistant
Students who earn their certificate in medical administrative assistant can pursue a career as a non-medical professional in the field of healthcare. Students may take on roles as medical administrative assistants, medical office assistants, medical receptionists, and more. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) labels these professionals as medical secretaries under the larger umbrella of secretaries and administrative assistants. The BLS reported that medical secretaries generally need a high school diploma and some postsecondary coursework to learn healthcare-related practices and terminology.
According to the BLS, as of 2019, the median annual salary for medical secretaries was $36,580. The job outlook for these secretaries from 2018 to 2028 was 16% growth, which is much faster than average. The BLS attributed this strong projection to the growing need for medical services and hence billing and insurance processing.
Online certificate programs in medical administrative assistant are fairly common and can be completed fully online in less than 1 year. These programs help prepare students for professional certification in the field.