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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degrees in Medical Secretary/Assistant

Majors Overview June 25, 2014

Healthcare professionals usually rely upon support and administrative staff to run a medical office. Graduates of medical secretary programs are prepared to perform clerical tasks, including managing records and scheduling patient appointments, in medical facilities’ front offices. Students in medical assistant programs will be taught how to help healthcare practitioners prepare instruments for basic medical procedures.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree Programs in Medical Secretary

Students enrolled in Medical Secretary or Administrative Assistant A.A.S. programs are trained in managing the daily routine of patients in health agencies such as clinics, dental and medical offices, and healthcare facilities among others.

Students are trained in computer applications most often used in medical office environments for scheduling patient appointments and handling medical transcription, billing, and coding.

Admission criteria in A.A.S. programs typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

Members of healthcare staff are assisted by medical secretaries in the business aspects of interactions with patients. Coursework in a typical degree program may include the following classes:

•Anatomy and physiology
•Medical transcription
•Medical office procedures
•Medical terminology
•Inpatient and outpatient coding
•Medical records management
•Keyboarding
•Business communications
•Customer service

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 27% has been predicted for medical secretaries during the period of 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). This projection is based on the assumption that there will be an increase in job opportunities. In May 2012, medical secretaries took home an average annual wage of $33,140 (BLS).

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree Programs in Medical Assistant

Students enrolled in A.A.S. programs in Medical Assistant are trained to perform both clinical and administrative roles in a healthcare setting. Students are typically taught basic office procedures; they are also taught how to assist with various in-office examination procedures and techniques.

Students are imparted knowledge of the biological concepts and medical language relevant to the effective assessment of a patient’s vital signs, collection of blood or other samples, sterilization of instruments, and provision of assistance to medical staff.

Admission criteria in Medical Assistant A.A.S. programs typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.

Coursework

Coursework in medical assistant programs typically includes coursework relevant to medical secretarial programs in addition to laboratory and clinical classes. Coursework in a degree program may include topic areas such as:

•Office administration
•Anatomy and physiology
•Pharmacology
•Medical coding, transcription, or billing
•Phlebotomy
•Laboratory procedures
•Clinical procedures
•Human disease
•Medical terminology

Job and Wage Outlook

A higher-than-average job growth rate of 34% has been predicted for medical assistants during the period of 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). This projection is based on the assumption that technical advances in the field combined with an aging population will result in the need for a streamlined healthcare administration and hence the need for medical assistants.

The best opportunities are expected to be enjoyed by medical assistants with professional certification and the ability to perform front office functions. In May 2012, medical assistants took home an average annual wage of $29,370 (BLS).

Certification Choices

Medical assistants can volunteer for professional certification that would enable them to showcase their skills and experience in the field to potential employers. Through the passage of an exam, they could seek to acquire the credential of Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). Certification for medical assistants is also offered by the AAMA.

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