Online Medical Degrees: Options for Distance Learners Interested in Medicine
Although it takes extensive campus involvement and hands-on training to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, there are options that allow students to enter the medical world through online degree programs. Associate's degrees in medical transcription, medical assisting and medical office administration can be completed almost entirely online and prepares graduates to seek entry-level employment in medical careers.
Online Associate's Degree in Medical Transcription Overview
The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Medical Transcription program instructs students in how to convert a doctor's daily dictation notes and reports, which are usually recorded, into succinct and coherent electronic or paper documents. A wide variety of basic medical information is covered, as well as essential word processing, database management and proofreading skills.
Many programs can be completed in less than two years and offer online practicum experience as a medical transcriptionist. Graduates are also prepared to take the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity's (AHDI) Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) exam (www.ahdionline.org).
Program Information and Requirements
An AAS in Medical Transcription program typically consists of 60-66 credit hours and all coursework is presented entirely online with no campus visits required. Certain schools may require an internship at a hospital or other medical facility before graduation. The online components, such as required readings and coursework, are accessible from anywhere with Internet access and can be worked on at any time of day prior to assignment deadlines.
Common Medical Transcription Courses
The curriculum of an associate's degree program in medical transcription is made up of a combination of core, technical major, general education and elective courses. The general education credits include courses in areas such as communications, math and social sciences. The programs that offer medical transcription as a concentration may have major courses separate from the concentration requirements.
Medical Terminology Course
This course introduces students to the concepts of medical word building and terms used to discuss human body systems, clinical procedures and pathological conditions. Prefixes, suffixes, word roots and abbreviations commonly found in the medical vocabulary are analyzed.
Medical Office Procedures and Communications Course
Students are instructed in the assortment of tasks that they will confront in the medical office, such as the composition of medical office documents. The writing styles, grammar and mechanics essential to the medical transcriptionist are also covered. The course may also address skills and techniques for conducting an effective job search.
Human Disease Processes Course
Various diseases that attack the different human body systems are identified as well as methods for treating them. Topics studied include etiology, symptoms, complications, prognosis and prevention of specific illnesses and diseases. Students can also learn techniques for helping patients effectively manage pain.
According to O*Net, 63% of medical transcriptionists have some college experience and no degree, while only one percent have earned their associate's degree (online.onetcenter.org). Although not required for employment, graduates have the option of becoming a RMT by passing an exam from the AHDI. After two years of professional experience, RMTs have the option of becoming Certified Medical Transcriptionists (CMT) by passing an additional AHDI examination.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May of 2009, there were 82,810 medical transcriptions and the average yearly salary in the same year was $33,350 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicts an occupational growth of 11% between the years 2008 and 2018.
Due to the rapidly evolving technology inherent in the medical field, medical transcriptionists are strongly encouraged to seek continuing education credits. RMTs and CMTs are required to participate in a certain number of continuing education hours in order to maintain their designations. The AHDI and other medical associations like the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offer many online continuing education credits with discounted prices for members. Continuing education courses in areas such as healthcare delivery systems, ICD-9-CM coding and the privacy initiative are presented fully online.
Online Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting Overview
The Associate of Science (A.S.) in Medical Assisting degree programs prepares prospective medical assistants for providing aid to physicians and nurses. Students can also learn many administrative and clinical duties, including updating patient records, arranging patient hospital visits, taking vital signs, giving injections and administering medications. This online program also provides instruction in the relevant science and business aspects of the medical field.
Program Information and Requirements
Completion of 60-66 credit hours is required for graduation from the associate's degree program. Although most courses are offered online, certain schools require students to come to campus to complete laboratory requirements that provide hands-on training in certain administrative and clinical skills.
Additionally, most schools require students to participate in an externship at a medical office. The online format gives students the ability to access course materials, interact with their professors and peers and turn in homework from anywhere with Internet access.
Common Medical Assisting Courses
The coursework for this associate's degree is comprised of core medical assisting classes and general education courses in areas like social or behavioral science, speech and information literacy. Lab courses and externship experiences make up the remainder of the curriculum.
Anatomy and Physiology Course
This course examines the physical structure, function and activities of the human organs and body systems, as well as nervous, lymphatic, cardiovascular, digestive and reproductive systems. Common disorders and diseases of these systems are also discussed from micro and macro levels.
Clinical Assisting Procedures Course
This course focuses on the skills and knowledge necessary to provide a practicing physician with adequate help, work as an effective clinical unit and relate to patients. These skills include doing anthropometric measurements, catheterizing, autoclaving, sterile gloving and calculating medicine dosages.
Basic Pharmacology and Pathophysiology Course
Common human diseases are highlighted, as well as the causes, symptoms and strategies for diagnosis. Students can also learn effective ways of treating these diseases with drug therapy, along with the drug categories, side effects and safety precautions.
Although many medical assistants have received their high school diploma, O*Net reported that 22% of them have received an associate's degree. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) offers professional certification, which is optional, but can be beneficial and provide increased job security ( www.aama-ntl.org). In May of 2009, the BLS reported that there were 495,970 medical assistants and the average annual salary was $29,450. The BLS also predicts a 34% growth rate for this field from 2008 to 2018.
By earning continuing education credits, professional medical assistants may be able to perform more complicated duties, which can lead to future career advancement to positions such as office manager. The AAMA requires continuing education credits for recertification and offers a wide variety of e-learning courses in areas such as collections for the medical practice, blepharoplasty and postpartum depression.
Online Associate's Degree in Medical Office Administration Overview
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and Associate of Science (A.S.) online degree programs are available in medical administration or medical office administration. Students enrolled in these degree programs study a large spectrum of medical and healthcare-related subjects with an emphasis placed on health information management. Essential skills involving authoring medical reports, billing insurance companies and properly interacting with patients are also covered.
Program Information and Requirements
An associate's degree in medical office administration requires 60-76 credit hours for completion. Certain schools require students to attend campus to undertake certain laboratory components and an in-person internship experience to hone their clinical skills; however, some programs do not require lab work or an internship for graduation. Students do not typically need to log on to the online courses at any specific times. Communication between students and instructors is achieved through the use of Internet message boards, chat rooms and e-mails.
Common Medical Office Administration Courses
A combination of major core, general education and elective courses make up the curriculum of an associate's degree in medical office administration. Some schools also require students to personal development courses, such as student success skills, career development and financial management.
This course covers foundational keyboarding skills with a focus on proper typing techniques and speed building. Keyboarding methods used to prepare office documents are highlighted, as well as assisting graduates with developing a typing rate of at least 25 words per minute.
Medical Coding, Billing and Insurance Procedures Course
The different types and structures of medical insurance programs offered through contemporary healthcare and other common third party payers are identified. Billing formats, coding concepts and the universal claim form are introduced, as well as alternate plan options, state and national regulations, modern reimbursement methods and compliance.
Medical Ethics and Legal Issues Course
Students analyze the intricate legal and moral issues concerning the healthcare environment. Topics examined include patient privacy and confidentiality, professional liability, legal requirements of medical practices and guidelines for medical office personnel.
O*Net found that nine percent of medical secretaries received their associate's degree, while the other percentage had a high school diploma or some college training. Many medical secretaries receive extensive on-the-job training from their employers. It was reported by the BLS that there were 469,740 people employed as medical secretaries as of May 2009. The BLS also noted that in 2008, the average annual salary for this career was $31,450 with an estimate of 27% job growth rate from 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov).
Related to Online Medical Degrees: Options for Distance Learners Interested in Medicine
- Recently Updated
Nuclear Medicine Technologist: Job Information and Requirements for Becoming a Nuclear Medical Technician
A career as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist requires a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in Nuclear...
Most people have a perception of med school that includes countless hours of lectures, lab work and studying without...
Medical anthropologists study the relationships between sociocultural elements and various aspects of health. They...
Health Technologist: Educational Requirements for Entering the Field of Medical and Health Technology
Health technology workers provide a range of assistive medical and health technology services and work in a range of...
- Medical Psychology: Career Options, Job Duties and Requirements
- Sports Medicine - Athletic Trainer: Career Education Overview
- Become a Medical Editor: Step-by-Step Career Guide
- Top School for Business Degree Programs - Columbus, OH
- Top Ranked University with Computer Information Systems Degrees - Indianapolis, IN
- List of Free Online Japanese Lessons and Courses
- Top Ranked Business Administration and Business Management Degrees - Houston, TX
- Medical Translator: Job Duties, Salary and Requirements
- Be a Chief Medical Examiner: Career Advancement Guide
- Top Master's Degree Program in Clinical Psychology - Chicago, IL
- Top Medical Assisting Degree Programs - Chicago, IL
- Top University with Public Administration Master's Degree Programs - Indianapolis, IN