February 5, 2020  |  Purdue University Global
February 5, 2020  |  Purdue University Global

If you’re looking for a meaningful career field with lots of opportunity, health care could be the perfect fit. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health care occupations is estimated to grow 14% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations and adding about 1.9 million new jobs.

Not only is the work fulfilling and the job prospects good, but several health care careers don’t require a 4-year (or more) degree to get. Here are four medical field jobs you can launch with two years of schooling or less:

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants help doctors with routine clinical work and perform hands-on duties with patients. A medical assistant’s job duties typically include:

  • Recording patient history and personal information
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Taking vital signs
  • Preparing blood and fluid samples for laboratory tests
  • Administering injections
  • Creating and managing medical records

“The medical assisting role has been evolving, and medical practices are restructuring the way they use medical assistants, to ensure they are using their skills at their highest potential,” says Danielle Scheetz, Medical Assistant program chair at Purdue University Global.

Medical assistants usually work Monday through Friday, with holidays and weekends off. Urgent care clinics and some family practices may have extended hours that require medical assistants to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Typical Entry-Level Education to Become a Medical Assistant

There are no formal education requirements to become a medical assistant in most states, but employers prefer to hire those who have completed a medical assistant certificate program. These typically take 9 months to complete.

Employment Projections

The BLS projects employment of medical assistants to grow 23% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What’s Driving the Demand for Medical Assistants?

“The ongoing changes in the health care industry has made the medical assisting field grow significantly,” says Scheetz, “and the aging baby-boom population is increasing the demand for services.”

Who Is a Good Fit for This Career?

“Someone who is detail-oriented, organized, and has excellent written and verbal communication skills would be a great fit for the medical assisting field,” says Scheetz. “Medical assistants must have the ability to multitask and prioritize, as well as work under pressure at times. The medical profession is always changing, so a willingness to adapt and continue to learn new skills is a must."

Read How to Become a Medical Assistant >>

Certification and licensing boards in Washington and South Dakota have specific educational requirements for a program to lead to certification as a medical assistant, which is a precondition for employment in those states. This program meets the educational requirements to obtain certification in Washington and South Dakota. Refer to the University Catalog for additional information.

Residents of all states are responsible for understanding the requirements of optional certification exams. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. In some cases, work experience, additional coursework beyond the Purdue Global program, fieldwork, and/or background checks may be necessary to be eligible to take or to successfully pass the exams.

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health information data. A medical records and health information technician’s job duties typically include:

  • Organizing and maintaining data for clinical databases
  • Reviewing patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness
  • Tracking patient outcomes for quality assessment
  • Using classification software to assign clinical codes for insurance reimbursement and data analysis
  • Recording data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting

The largest subset of this career field is the medical billing and coding specialist, the role that’s responsible for taking a patient's medical record from an encounter at a health care facility and creating the bill for reimbursement from the insurance companies.

“Medical billers and coders often are able to work remotely from their home making this a good job for someone who can work independently and needs some flexibility,” says Nancy Szwydek, assistant dean and department chair at Purdue Global. “Although many coders do work from home, they will typically be required to first work on-site for a period of time before gaining that independence.”

Learn More: Is a Career as a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Right for Me? >>

Typical Entry-Level Education to Become a Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Most people train for this role by completing a medical billing and coding certificate program or a medical office administration certificate program, both of which take about a year to complete.

Employment Projections

The BLS projects employment of medical records and health information technicians will grow 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What’s Driving the Demand for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians?

“The ongoing change to electronic health records has increased the need for individuals trained in a multitude of health information areas, and the need to have accurate medical coding affects provider and institutional reimbursement,” says Szwydek.

Who Is a Good Fit for This Career?

“Someone who is detailed-oriented and likes to solve puzzles is a great match for a medical billing and coding career, since the professional will have to extract data from the medical record in order to appropriately code the records for billing and reimbursement,” says Szwydek.

Individuals need to have a knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. “Someone who likes to work with finances and accounting would be a good fit for the billing aspect of this career,” she adds.

Students are responsible for understanding the requirements of optional certification exams. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. In some cases, work experience, additional coursework beyond the Purdue Global program, fieldwork, and/or background checks may be necessary to be eligible to take or to successfully pass the exams.

Medical Secretary

Medical secretaries are commonly known as medical office managers, medical office administrators, and medical managers. They are responsible for day-to-day operations in a medical office or other health care facility using specific knowledge of medical terminology and laboratory procedures. A medical secretary’s job duties typically include:

  • Scheduling appointments
  • Billing patients
  • Compiling and recording medical charts, reports, and correspondence
  • Managing medical and financial records

“Medical secretaries are the first point of contact in a medical office, and they set the tone of an entire medical practice,” says Jennifer Claire, faculty member of School of Health Sciences at Purdue Global. “This role provides excellent customer service and follows regulatory compliance with HIPAA, OSHA, labor laws, and other federal, state, and local regulations. It’s an excellent career which affords stability and usually, family-oriented work schedules.”

Typical Entry-Level Education to Become a Medical Secretary

Most people train for this role by completing a medical office administration certificate program or a medical billing and coding certificate program, both of which take about a year to complete.

Employment Projections

O*NET projects employment of medical secretaries will grow 11% or more from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What’s Driving the Demand for Medical Secretaries?

“The field of health care grows as the population grows, and there will always be a need for health care,” Claire says.

Who Is a Good Fit for This Career?

“Individuals who feel they are leaders, want to serve, help, and encourage others are a good fit for this line of work,” Claire says. “Those who like to organize, pay attention to details, and those who have the basic computer skills needed to complete electronic functions with medical records and basic medical accounting. Individuals in this role are those who can solve problems, multitask, and work and communicate with different types of people, from children to doctors to business associates.”

Students are responsible for understanding the requirements of optional certification exams. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. In some cases, work experience, additional coursework beyond the Purdue Global program, fieldwork, and/or background checks may be necessary to be eligible to take or to successfully pass the exams.

Registered Nurse

A registered nurse is one who has graduated from an approved nursing program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). An RN’s job duties typically include:

  • Assessing patients’ conditions
  • Recording medical histories and symptoms
  • Administering medicine and treatments
  • Setting up care plans
  • Collaborating with doctors and other health care professionals
  • Teaching patients and their families how to manage illnesses or injuries
  • Explaining what to do at home after treatment

“Nursing repeatedly tops Gallup polls as one of the most trusted and ethical professions in America,” says Tiffany Everson, assistant academic chair of nursing at Purdue Global. “Although bedside nursing is a large need, there are tremendous additional opportunities for nurses within the profession including education, forensics, research, and executive leadership.

“It is an exciting time to embark on this career path as opportunities continue to grow in health care.”

Typical Entry-Level Education to Become a Registered Nurse

At a minimum, registered nurses must earn an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). After earning an ADN, you may sit for the NCLEX exam, and once you pass, you become a licensed RN.

Many nurses opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) and then sit for the NCLEX. A third option is to earn an ADN, become a registered nurse, and then earn an online RN-to-BSN degree while you work.

Employment Projections

The BLS projects employment of RNs will grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

What’s Driving the Demand for RNs?

“As in other health care roles, the field of nursing is in great need of licensed professionals as the baby boomer population ages,” says Everson. “Although the nursing profession is currently 4 million strong, the average age of seasoned nurses is also increasing and many are nearing retirement.

“In addition, because of the great strides in treating illness, nurses are now dealing with more complex, chronic health needs of individuals across all ages and in more community-based settings outside the hospital.”

Who Is a Good Fit for This Career?

“Nursing is unique in that it is both an art and a science,” says Everson. “Because of this, there are many qualities a registered nurse should possess, including a high standard for professionalism, clear communication skills, being detail-oriented, ability to collaborate with others, quick problem-solving abilities, and flexibility.

“A person who can do these things while having empathy, compassion, and a motivation to help others is equally important.”

Graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN® exam may be academically eligible for licensure as a registered nurse in Iowa, Maine, and Nebraska. Purdue Global has not made a determination with respect to the licensure or certification requirements for any other states or occupations. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. Refer to the University Catalog for additional information. NCLEX is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.

Students are responsible for understanding the requirements of optional certification exams. The University cannot guarantee students will be eligible to sit for or pass exams. In some cases, work experience, additional coursework beyond the Purdue Global program, fieldwork, and/or background checks may be necessary to be eligible to take or to successfully pass the exams.

Begin a Health Care Career in 2 Years or Less With Purdue Global

Enroll in a Purdue Global degree or certificate program to gain real-world knowledge and practical career skills. Part of the respected Purdue University system, we offer:

Take the first step toward a rewarding health care career and request more information today.

Filed in: Health Sciences


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Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized, world-class education online that's tailored for adults. We offer 175 programs, including associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees as well as certificates, in areas such as business, IT, education, health sciences, nursing, criminal justice, and more.


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