What Is an Online Medical Office Administration Certificate?
While earning a medical office administration certificate online, students acquire the skills and training necessary to work in healthcare support positions, including terminology, transcription, and technology skills. Students learn how to process patient information, follow healthcare procedures and guidelines, and communicate with other medical professionals.
These programs typically take 6-18 months to complete, so medical office administration certificates attract individuals who are looking to quickly join the healthcare workforce. Certificates can also help experienced professionals advance their careers and develop useful administrative skills. Earning a certificate may also qualify graduates to take industry certification exams.
What's the Difference Between a Medical Office Administration Certificate and an Associate Degree in Medical Office Administration?
A medical office administration associate degree provides much of the same instruction as a medical office administration certificate, with added general education credits. With this additional coursework, the associate degree takes approximately two years to complete. Associate degrees can also count toward general education credits for a bachelor's degree, so students often choose this path as a foundation for later training.
Like a medical office administration certificate, pursuing an associate degree can lead to employment as a medical assistant or medical records technician. Some employers prefer candidates with an undergraduate degree, as they have more specialized skills. Many schools offer both types of programs to accommodate diverse student goals.
What Can You Do With a Medical Office Administration Certificate?
Earning a medical office administration certificate online can lead to work in many healthcare sectors. BLS employment data indicates that most healthcare support professionals handle administration, patient examinations, and clinical work in family services, hospitals, nursing care facilities, and physician offices. However, despite their medically focused training, graduates can also use their administrative skills in other industries, including office and administrative support.
The following section explores three major healthcare industries where certificate-holders can find employment.
Most classes in an online medical office administration certificate program train graduates to work in private practices, where they may support patient examinations and take vitals. They may also handle administrative duties, such as managing patient records, scheduling, and processing insurance information.
Students aiming to work in this field should choose a program that includes clinical practice and classes in facility and medical records management.
Medical office administration certificate-holders typically work on the administration and patient records side of dental offices. These professionals manage patient information and databases, process insurance claims, and schedule appointments.
Candidates pursuing careers in dentistry should take classes in recordkeeping and facility management. Courses in dental terminology and processes could also be useful.
In hospitals, medical office administration certificate graduates typically oversee administrative tasks, such as handling medical records, processing insurance claims, taking patient information, and scheduling.
Understanding hospital regulations and guidelines could give certificate-holders a competitive advantage in this field. While clinical training can help medical assistants pursue laboratory positions, aspiring hospital administrators typically focus on medical coding and billing courses.
Choosing an Online Program
When choosing a certificate program, students should consider factors like accreditation, study times, and program offerings. Every student has unique needs, goals, and circumstances. The following sections and links aim to help aspiring students make informed decisions.
Accreditation for Medical Office Administration Programs
Accreditation ensures that the program and training meet or exceed industry standards. Attending a regionally accredited institution can influence what funding, employment, and certification opportunities you can access after graduation.
Though not always mandatory, medical office administration certificate programs may receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Some industry certifications require CAAHEP accreditation, so candidates should always research a program's status before committing.
What to Expect From a Medical Office Administration Certificate
Coursework in online medical office administration certificate programs varies among schools, but the following list outlines some common courses.
Medical Office Administration Curriculum
- Office Editing: Office editing courses develop writing and grammar skills, with a focus on office documentation. Students learn to compose written messages and edit coworkers' communications.
- Records Management: Students examine recordkeeping techniques used in various healthcare settings, including specific medical record requirements, coding and filing protocols, and legal regulations.
- Medical Terminology: In medical terminology courses, students learn the proper spelling, pronunciation, and use of medical terms. They also explore the etymology of common medical words.
- Medical Office Terms: This course introduces students to medical concepts and procedures, human anatomy, and basic terminology. In most healthcare occupations, students need this training to communicate effectively.
- Medical Billing and Insurance: Students in this course learn to process patient bills and claims. They use industry-standard processes, terminology, and software.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Medical Office Administration Certificate Online?
A medical office administration certificate's timeline depends on each student's enrollment type and course load. Most programs run 9-18 months, though accelerated programs may offer faster completion times.
Conversely, students with busier schedules can also pursue part-time programs that progress more slowly.
Medical Office Administration Certifications
While certificates are educational documents awarded by schools and universities, certificates are typically awarded by professional organizations or associations. Earning these credentials typically requires a passing score on an examination that tests candidates on industry standards.
Eligibility requirements vary by certification, but some require candidates to have completed an accredited program and have relevant work experience. Examinations vary in scope, often covering different specialties, but accredited medical office administration certificates can qualify graduates to take some of these tests.
Once certified, professionals need to maintain their credentials by completing continuing education credits and renewing their certifications, usually every 2-3 years.
The MOAC credential measures healthcare professionals' standardized field knowledge. Several organizations offer this certification, including the American Medical Certification Association. Earning this credential can improve employment and career opportunities.
The CMAA credential from the National Healthcare Association demonstrates a professional's knowledge of standard industry practices. This certification can help individuals gain employment and advance their careers. Candidates must complete an accredited medical administration program and pass the national examination.
Medical Office Administration Organizations
Professional medical office administration organizations, such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management and the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals, help students, graduates, and experienced professionals strengthen their career prospects.
Members can access educational support resources, career services, and industry news and publications. After entering the workforce, they can also keep up with continuing education, research, and professional development programs.
Medical Office Administration Careers
After earning a medical office certificate online, graduates can access medical careers in hospitals, physician offices, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities.
The administrative skills learned in these programs can also lead to positions outside the healthcare sector. The data below looks at some of the most popular career pathways and their median annual salaries, but students can also pursue positions that are not listed.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics