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Medical Office Assisting Programs

Medical Office Assisting Programs

What are Medical Office Assistants?

Medical office assistants complete various administrative duties in healthcare offices. They may schedule appointments, take insurance information for billing, and even order and stock medical supplies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). Other responsibilities may include filing papers, updating medical records, and understanding the business procedures that need to be followed in an office. For more information, see our medical office assistant career page.

Medical Office Assisting Program Information

A broad number of postsecondary institutions, including vocational schools and community colleges offer medical office assisting programs. Some of these programs are campus based while others are completely online. Some even offer a combination of class-based and online learning through a hybrid format. Requirements vary for programs based on the length and scope of the training available, but generally medical office assisting schools train students to be knowledgeable in the administrative skills and tasks that are helpful in keeping a healthcare office running smoothly.

Medical Office Assisting Program Types

The following medical office assisting programs are available to those looking to enter the field:

  • Diploma/Certificate: Full-time students may only need several months to complete these programs. Medical office assisting courses typically introduce students to word processing and spreadsheet software, basic medical terminology, billing and insurance practices, and healthcare laws and ethics. Students may find flexible class offerings and coursework available during the day or evening, or even online.
  • Associate Degree: The coursework in this program can generally be completed in two years. Like diploma and certificate programs, this program offers a broad base of learning in essential administrative healthcare functions, but tends to feature more general education classes. Students may explore business, computers and writing in greater depth and could be better prepared to complete a bachelor's degree in a related healthcare field if that is an objective. Students in an associate degree program may also need to complete an externship.

Upon completion of one of these medical office assisting programs, students may be ready to take a certification exam offered through an organization such as the National Healthcareer Association or American Medical Technologists. The BLS notes that certification is not required to gain employment, but that employers do favor workers who are certified (bls.gov/ooh, 2012). State regulations are always changing, however, so check with your state's department of health for the latest information.

Medical Office Assisting Course Descriptions

Coursework in medical office assisting schools can be similar, whether the program offered helps lead to a diploma, certificate or associate degree. Students can expect to gain basic administrative healthcare knowledge and learn important communication skills as part of their training. Students may find any of the following courses comprise part of the core curriculum in medical office assisting programs:

  • Medical Terminology: Students learn about the basic language of healthcare, including well-known root words and commonly-used prefixes and suffixes. This terminology applies to many of the basic systems of the body but also be functional in doing billing and coding.
  • Healthcare Computer Applications: Students learn about the type of computer programs that can be used in a medical office and how to keep track of important information like insurance. They may learn about the processes that are needed for bring a new patient onboard and what needs to be done in the computer to set him or her up for a first appointment.
  • Medical Coding and Insurance: Students are introduced to the coding procedures needed to fill out and process insurance claims in an office or healthcare setting. Students may also learn about different types of health insurance and the specific terminology that may applicable to each.

Related Career Options

As medical office assistants gain experience, their goals and interests may change, prompting them to seek other healthcare positions. Related career paths might include pursuing employment as a:

  • Health Information Technician: Code patient information for billing and insurance purposes and help organize and track healthcare records. Requires postsecondary credential and oftentimes certification.
  • Nurse Assistant: Administer basic patient care in nursing homes, hospitals and other medical facilities. Requires a postsecondary credential and state certification/licensure.
  • Pharmacy Tech: Works under the direction of a pharmacist and help process prescriptions for customers. May require formal postsecondary education and certification.

Links to Sources and Associations

Visit the following websites to learn more about medical office assisting:

American Medical Technologists

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Assistants, 2012

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, 2012

National Healthcareer Association

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Medical Office Specialist

About Brightwood College

Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

About Education Corporation of America

Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

Medical Billing and Office Administration
  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Administrative Medical Assistant
  • Offers medical and cosmetic programs, including dental assisting, massage therapy, cosmetology, esthetics, and more.
  • Features a public salon and spa where students may get real-world experience.
  • Offers scholarship opportunities for students wo qualify.
  • Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
  • 2 separate Vacaville campuses, one is for medical careers and the other is the beauty academy.
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Administrative Medical Assistant
  • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
  • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.
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  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
Medical Administrative Specialist
Platt College , Anaheim
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Program
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
  • Career service professionals work directly with students from the start of their program, and help them pursue employment in day spas, luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other locations.
  • Students can work in the SOCHI Massage Clinic to gain experience and build their career skills.
  • Financial aid representatives help students develop a personalized financial plan to finance their tuition.
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  • Financial Aid
Medical Billing and Coding
Good for Working Adults
  • Offers career placement assistance services to recent graduates.
  • Approved to accept international students who wish to study in the United States.
  • Programs include Medical Office Specialist, Medical Assistant, Dental Lab Technician, and Healthcare Administration.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • Main campus is located in Van Nuys, California, north of Los Angeles.
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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits