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Between 2008 and 2018, the number of jobs for medical administrative assistants is expected to grow 27 percent--more than any other secretarial specialty. These jobs tend to be full-time positions with regular working hours that don't require professional certification.

If you're interested in becoming a medical administrative assistant, also called medical secretary, you'll need to learn how to perform the highly specialized administrative work that's required in the health care field. This includes knowledge of medical or dentistry terminology and techniques used to treat patients. You'll also need the clerical skills to manage health care information and transcribe medical notes and files and the computer skills that will familiarize you with the technology and software used in many medical offices. You can learn all of these skills and more as part of an associate degree in medical administrative assisting program.

Typical courses in a medical administrative assisting degree program

As part of any associate degree program, you'll be required to take a number of general education or core classes to ensure you get a well-rounded education. These programs usually take between eighteen months and two years to complete. You typically have some choice so that you can take classes that best fit your academic and career goals. The following are examples of core classes you might encounter:

  • Communications: composition, mass communications, speech communications
  • Humanities: foreign language, film studies, literature
  • Math: algebra, statistics, mathematical reasoning
  • Science: biology, anatomy and physiology, environmental science
  • Social science: sociology, psychology, economics

Additionally, you'll take courses directly related to your major. For a medical administrative assisting degree, you may take classes such as:

  • Business writing and communications
  • Computer information systems
  • Health care law and ethics
  • Keyboarding
  • Medical terminology

If you choose an online associate degree in medical administrative assisting programs, be sure to ask how classes like speech communications or foreign languages are taught. Sometimes an online associate degree in medical administrative assisting may have a required externship or practicum to help you gain these valuable skills.

Careers in medical administrative assisting

As a medical administrative assistant or secretary, you may have a variety of duties that include:

  • Answering and directing telephone calls
  • Greeting patients and having them complete forms
  • Interviewing patients and taking case histories
  • Compiling medical charts and reports
  • Completing insurance and claim forms

On average, medical secretaries earned $31,450 in 2009 with the top 10 percent earning just over $44,000 a year. The scientific research and development services is the top-paying industry for medical secretaries, but it only employs a very small number. The majority of these jobs can be found in physician's offices, hospitals and dental offices. Of the three, dentists office tend to pay the highest salaries with an average of $35,580 annually.

With an associate degree in medical assisting, you may also be qualified for a career as a front office manager, medical receptionist, patient coordinator or patient relationship representative.

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