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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degrees in Healthcare

Majors Overview June 21, 2014

Receive information about different Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs in Healthcare and their coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education choices.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree Programs in Healthcare Administration

Students enrolled in these two-year programs are taught how to perform office duties within health care settings. During the performance of these duties, they would have to collect and interpret data, analyze and solve issues using health care legal and ethical principles, and train employees. Students’ managerial skills are also developed for use in the running of health care facilities.

Admission criteria require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

Coursework includes classroom lectures and potential internships wherein students are given practical, hands-on experience in an office environment. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Health care management
•Accounting
•Human resource management
•Medical terminology
•Patient record keeping
•Health care laws
•Insurance claim preparation
•Computer concepts

Career Choices

Graduates can seek office positions in several medical environments and aim for various career titles:

•Data entry clerk
•Medical records clerk
•Front office assistant
•Billing clerk
•Admission clerk

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Prospective medical and health service managers may seek continued education by earning bachelor’s degrees and, in turn, master’s degrees in health administration. They can also seek professional certification—such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)—to boost their career prospects.

Graduates would qualify to take the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) exam for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) credential; they can also take the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) certification exam.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree Programs for Medical Assistants

Coursework in these programs typically combines medical training with administrative training, and students are taught about general office procedures, medical transcription, medical lab testing, and examination room procedures. Coursework includes hands on training and classroom lectures; practical training is imparted in various areas, such as laboratory testing, patient preparation, medical records management, and equipment sterilization.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students may also have to show evidence of CPR certification, physical examinations, and current immunizations.

Coursework

Coursework is typically a combination of lab studies, classroom lectures, and clinical education, the last of which is typically in the form of supervised practicum and internships. Coursework may include the following topic areas:

•Medical insurance billing
•Health care communications
•Human diseases
•Medical transcription
•Anatomy and physiology
•Medical terminology

Job and Wage Outlook

A faster-than-average job growth rate of 34% has been predicted for medical assisting during the period from 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). This is rated among the faster growth rates for all occupations. In May 2010, medical assistants took home an average annual wage of $29,370 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Graduates of medical assistant associate degree programs can seek continued education by enrolling into a bachelor’s degree program in related medical areas, such as health care administration or nursing. Although licensure and certification are not mandatory for medical assistants, certification may be viewed by many employers as a demonstration of knowledge and skill in the field. Passage of a written exam can help medical assistants acquire certified credentials offered by both the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) and the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree Programs for Medical Coding and Billing

Typically, community colleges and vocational schools are among the institutions that offer medical coding and billing programs, which usually take less than two years to complete. Students are imparted knowledge of insurance coding, medical terminology, and a variety of administrative duties to help prepare and submit billing and insurance documents.

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

Apart from coursework, supervised internships that impart practical experience in medical settings also have to be completed by students. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Ten key mastery
•ICD-9 coding
•Medisoft office management software
•Manual and computerized accounting
•Medical terminology
•Records management
•Collections
•Medical transcription

Career Choices

After they complete the program, graduates can seek entry-level jobs in insurance companies, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. Commonly, they may choose from various career titles:

•Health information technicians
•Medical records coders
•Coding specialists
•Medical coders
•Medical records technicians

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Those that successfully complete medical coding and billing programs may seek continued education by earning bachelor’s or master’s degrees in healthcare administration and consequently fill medical and health service management positions. Those that volunteer for professional certification can boost their job prospects as well as wage levels. Specialty coding certifications are offered by organizations such as the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS), the Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

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