Healthcare administration is a rapidly growing field, with a number of online degree options available. Students interested in an associate in healthcare administration can expect to complete courses in medical terminology, medical records management, healthcare reimbursement, healthcare management systems, health care law and ethics, and computer technology. Depending on the specific school, specialization tracks may include medical transcription, medical billing and coding, or medical office administration, among others. Graduates are prepared to fill these entry-level positions at physicians' offices, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
Why an Associate Degree?
Students interested in a relatively quick entry into the growing healthcare industry may be drawn to certificates or associate degrees that focus on training students for careers as medical billers or coders, medical transcriptionists, or medical office assistants. Classes typically cover both computer and administrative skills as well as medical industry information. An associate program will include a general education curriculum with courses in composition, mathematics, natural science, social science, and humanities. This can serve as a great foundation if you ever decide to continue on to a bachelor’s program.
Inside a Healthcare Administration Associate Degree Program
Students interested in earning their associate in healthcare administration online should expect approximately two years of full-time study. Factors such as any breaks taken from the program, the number of courses taken each term, and applicable transfer credits can all influence this estimate. Major courses may focus on a specific occupation within health care administration, such as medical billing and coding or medical transcription. Popular courses include medical terminology, health care law and ethics, health care delivery systems, medical records management, and computer technology, among others. General education classes will also be required for associate students.
Since most online classes run in an asynchronous format, students have access to the virtual learning platform 24/7. This allows them to login and complete assignments, participate in group discussion boards, review materials, and contact their professors any time that fits their personal and professional schedules. Additionally, any internship or clinical practice requirements can be arranged in the student’s area for maximum convenience.
What’s Next for Healthcare Administration Associate Degree Holders?
Those who complete a degree are equipped with the technical skills and industry knowledge needed to pursue entry-level administrative jobs with hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics. Specific opportunities may vary based on your area of specialization, such as medical billing and coding, medical records management, or medical transcription. Please note, most employers will prefer to hire candidates with professional certifications. If you attend an accredited program, you should be prepared to sit for the applicable certification exam. These may include certification through the American Medical Billing Association, American Academy of Professional Coders, American Health Information Management Association, or the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, among others.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 15% over the projection period of 2014 to 2024. As of May 2014, the mean annual wage for technicians was $38,860. Please keep in mind, this may not reflect starting salaries or actual job availability in your area.