Students pursuing an associate degree in healthcare administration explore a variety of both health and management-related concepts. Full-time students typically take two years to complete the degree program. Depending on the school, they may work toward an Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in healthcare administration or healthcare management.
Online Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration: Coursework and Overview
While earning their healthcare administration degree, students take degree-specific and general education classes. The curriculum varies by school, but there are a number of courses that are common to degree programs. Below are some examples, with topics that are often covered:
Healthcare Administration Degree Courses
- Healthcare Management: Classes provide an introduction to the healthcare delivery system, exploring such issues as managed care and management functions in healthcare.
- Anatomy and Physiology: Students examine the structure and function of cells, tissues, and human body systems, such as the skeletal and nervous systems.
- Medical Terminology: Individuals study the meaning and structure of common medical terms. Classes usually offer a review of roots, prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms of words.
- Medical Law and Ethics: Studies explore legal and ethical issues that healthcare professionals face. Examples of issues that students may discuss include confidentiality and liability.
- Human Resource Management: Classes cover major concepts and practices in human resource management. Compensation, labor relations, and employee selection are among potential discussion topics.
General Education Courses
- Accounting: Courses are structured to provide students with fundamental skills in understanding and interpreting financial statements and concepts, such as the accounting cycle.
- Computer Applications: Courses aim to provide students with basic computer literacy in such applications as word processing, database, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
- College Algebra: Students can gain an understanding of a number of algebraic concepts and calculations, typically including quadratic equations, inequalities, and exponential functions.
Potential Careers for Individuals with an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration
Earning an associate degree cannot guarantee one employment. However, courses that individuals take during their degree program can provide them with skills that could be useful for several careers. Examples are outlined below:
- Clinical medical assistants' responsibilities depend on their workplace. Potential tasks include sterilizing medical tools, performing laboratory tests, and educating patients on medication. Some professionals concentrate their career in a certain type of medical office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), although postsecondary education is typically not required for medical assistants, employers may desire candidates with formal education in the field.
- Medical coders act as an intermediary between billing offices and health clinicians and also examine patient information for preexisting conditions. Additional responsibilities may include managing data for clinical registries and databases and preserving the confidentiality and security of patients' health data. Courses in medical law and ethics may help prepare students for this career. Bls.gov notes that medical coders often need professional certification.
- Medical transcriptionists listen to health professionals' recorded dictations, transcribe dictations into written reports, and convert medical terms and abbreviations into their long forms. Adhering to patient confidentiality and legal documentation regulations is another aspect of this career. Bls.gov states that an understanding of pharmacology, medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology is important for medical transcriptionists, who often pursue postsecondary training in the field.
- Health information managers handle security and maintenance of patient records and make sure that databases are accurate and available only to authorized individuals. Professionals in this career must retain a current knowledge of information technology and of legal regulations regarding health information systems. Courses in medical law and ethics and healthcare management may help students prepare for legal and other aspects of this career. According to bls.gov, medical and health services managers typically have a bachelor's degree.
After earning their associate degree in healthcare administration, individuals may want to further their education in the subject rather than pursuing a career. Schools typically offer a related bachelor's degree in healthcare management or healthcare administration. Students interested in earning their bachelor's degree should speak to an admissions counselor to gauge their qualifications.
"Medical and Health Service Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm
"Medical Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
"Medical Records and Health Information Technicians," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm
"Medical Transcriptionists," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Hnadbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-transcriptionists.htm