What to Expect from an Associate in Healthcare Degree Program

The need for healthcare professionals at all levels continues to grow. Not only is the health care field composed of lucrative career options, but many education paths also exist for those seeking an Associate degree in Healthcare. The U.S. Department of Labor projects 22.5 percent job growth for the industry through 2018, and an increase in health care hiring of more than 140,000 jobs. Here is an overview of several degree options, the basic courses offered, and the various options for paths to the specialty areas:

Associate Degree Program in Medical Administration
A healthcare administrator plans and manages the efficient delivery of quality health care services. Core courses for generalists include Management, Business Administration, Finance, Operations Management, Admissions and Personnel. Specialties include supervision for specific departments, such as surgery, nursing, information systems or medical records. Specialists also prepare budgets, coordinate operations, and develop procedures and policies. Associate degree options include an A.S., A.A.S., A.O.S, or an A.A. in Medical Office Administration or Healthcare Administration. Programs most often include an externship at a healthcare facility. Several programs are available online.

Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology
Health information technology professionals manage patient information and records in a healthcare environment. They ensure patient records (paper and electronic) are accurate, complete and private. Core courses are taken in basic medical terminology, medical office skills, keyboarding, health services and information systems, anatomy and physiology, health care law, legal and regulatory Issues, and basic pharmacology. The concentration courses include Medical Terminology, Patient Information Management, Medical Claims Processing, Medical Records Management Practices, and Medical Record Keeping. Specialized courses include Health Insurance and Reimbursement and International Classification of Diseases Coding, where students learn the principles and guidelines for using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9-CM).

Associate Degree in Dental Hygiene
Dental hygienists assist dental professionals in a wide range of healthcare settings. Core courses include Dental Anatomy, Dental Hygiene Techniques, and Nutrition. Specialized courses include Radiography, Microbiology, and Periodontology. Dental hygienists hold an associate degree in dental hygiene and a license, which is mandated by law.  

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
Registered nurses work in diverse medical settings, from private medical offices to hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Core courses include Human Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology, Composition, Biology, and Psychology. Specialized courses include Fundamentals of Nursing Concepts, Maternal-Newborn Nursing Concepts, Mental Health Nursing, Pediatric Nursing, and Nursing Professional Practice Concepts. Registered nurses are qualified to work with an Associate degree in nursing (ADN) and an approved nursing program diploma. Students may specialize in areas such as neonatology, rehabilitation, addiction, mental health or geriatric.

Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2010.
http://education.yahoo.net/articles/trendy_health_care_careers.htm?kid=1HRWB&svkid=EZPJ&usid=f592be59-05c9-49f2-8776-24076447e9dd
http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/04/26/health-care-careers-degree/
http://education.yahoo.net/articles/6_smart_associates_degrees.htm?svkid=EZPJ&usid=f592be59-05c9-49f2-8776-24076447e9dd
http://www.devry.edu/degree-programs/college-health-sciences/health-information-technology-about.html
http://education-portal.com/articles/Associate_Degree_in_Medical_Records_Technology_Program_Info.html

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