Online Associate Degree Programs Available in Health Sciences & Studies
Earning an Associate Degree in Health Sciences or Services
When you think of those who provide health sciences and services, you may only think of doctors and nurses. While these clinicians do receive training in health services, there are numerous other careers available to health services majors including many... that do not involve hands-on care or treatment of patients. Earning an online associate degree in health services will allow you to gain an entry-level position as an aide in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, rehabilitation center, or other medical facility. You may also be able to apply your two-year degree to a bachelor program when you're ready to continue your studies.
Specific online courses will depend upon your area of concentration, but most health-services programs require you to take classes that teach office skills such as accounting, computer proficiency, and insurance processing. The curriculum may also include courses that prepare you to handle basic clinical tasks. So you might be required to study physiology, medical terminology, laboratory methods, diagnostic procedures, and first aid. Many programs will provide internship opportunities in which you gain hands-on training in a physician's office or medical setting. Still, much of your training for any health services position will happen on the job after you are hired. Therefore, being able to learn quickly and having good observation skills will help you to do well in this field.
In your course of study and job hunting, you can choose to focus on administrative services, general clinical services, or medical specialties such as ophthalmology, optometry, and podiatry. Administrative positions focus on managing patients' files; taking care of insurance claims; scheduling appointments, tests, or additional procedures; overseeing facilities and supplies; and handling some financial issues. In this position, you work directly with patients and vendors, so strong interpersonal communications skills are essential.
Clinical medical assistants may be expected to handle some administrative tasks as well, but their primary responsibility is to help the doctor or medical practitioner treat patients. Some of the duties you might have as a clinical assistant include taking vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, etc.), drawing blood, collecting laboratory specimens, assisting with laboratory tests, removing sutures, preparing patients for various tests, or administering medication. You may be in charge of maintaining exam rooms, which means cleaning the area as well as ordering and organizing supplies. You will be working directly with patients in this job, so good speaking skills and a warm, friendly manner are helpful.
If you choose to focus on a medical specialty, you will need to take courses related to that field of medicine in order to be able to conduct specific tests and administer proper treatments. For example, a podiatric medical assistant will need to know how to make a foot casting and take x-rays. Some states will require you to take additional training programs or pass a certification in a specific area before you can work with patients in a clinical settling.