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Medical and dental office managers ensure that their respective offices function efficiently and smoothly, allowing physicians and dentists to give their patients undivided attention. In short, dental and medical office managers run the day-to-day business aspects of a dental or medical practice.
Technology and innovation are likely to drive the demand for dental services making a career in medical and dental office management a good prospect for those who have both organizational and people skills. Medical and dental office managers should feel comfortable with a diverse patient population, have a genuine concern for the welfare of patients and a strong desire to help patients, particularly because visits to doctors' offices can be stressful or involve painful situations.
As managers, they also need the leadership qualities necessary to make staffing decisions, administer office policies and inspire a team of coworkers.
If you would like to start — or grow — in this career but do not want to leave your job or have family commitments to attend to, online degree programs in medical or dental office management can offer a way to earn a degree while maintaining a work-life-study balance.
What do medical and dental office managers do?
Dental and medical office managers may manage a specific department, clinical area or an entire dental or medical facility or a practice for a group of dentists or physicians.
Typical duties of a medical or dental office manager can include:
- Improving the overall efficiency by implementing best practice measures
- Ensuring customer satisfaction and addressing any complaints
- Managing personnel , scheduling training and hiring or (if necessary) firing of employees
- Ensuring office supplies are stocked and keeping inventories of the same
- Establishing monthly budgets and managing accounting
- Creating work schedules
- Ensuring the facility is compliant with laws and regulations
Occupations and Career Outlook
Many healthcare and healthcare support occupations are projected to grow faster than average for all occupations. The table below outlines the BLS projections for administrative occupations.
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
|Dental Laboratory Technicians||34,480||$43,180||14.5%|
Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals
The educational requirements for medical or dental office managers can vary depending on the size of the practice and tasks they are required to carry out.
Smaller medical and dental facilities and practices may hire individuals with an associate or a bachelor's degree for entry-level roles. Generally, larger institutions require applicants with a bachelor's or master's degree.
Medical office managers may not need to have specific medical training but are often required to be well-versed in medical terminology and procedures.
Online Certificate Programs in Medical and Dental Office Management
What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?
Students in a certificate program are introduced to basic office administration, as well as general medical and dental processes and procedures.
Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED.
Typical coursework: Curricula can include various administrative procedures, software applications, medical and dental terminology, billing procedures along with the workings of medical insurance processes. You may find courses such as:
- Fundamentals of medical office administration
- Introduction to coding
- Reimbursement methodologies
- Dental insurance processing
- Dental healthcare communication
As part of the certificate program, you may have to complete an internship in a professional medical office. Enrollment or completion of a Healthcare Provider CPR training program may be mandatory as well as a criminal background check before starting an internship.
What can I do after earning a certificate?
You may qualify for entry-level healthcare jobs such as:
- Administrative assistant
- Dental administrator
- Dental receptionist
- Medical office assistant
- Medical secretary
- Medical clerk
- Medical receptionist
- Front office manager
Online Associate Degree Programs in Medical and Dental Office Management
What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?
An associate degree program in medical or dental office management usually offers a curriculum heavy in business management and science courses.
Typical duration: Two years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
Typical coursework: In addition to general education courses, you may find courses like these:
- Database management
- Patient relations and customer service
- Medical law and bioethics
- Diseases of the human body
- Preclinical skills
- Dental office management
- Dental materials
- Insurance claims, processing and adjudication
Before starting your internship or clinical experience, you may be required to complete a Healthcare Provider CPR training program and undergo a criminal background check.
What can I do after earning an associate degree?
You may be eligible for entry-level job roles in smaller practices. A few potential occupations include:
- Medical receptionist
- Billings clerk
- Medical records and health information technician
- Dental office receptionist
- Dental office manager
Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in Medical and Dental Office Management
What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?
An online bachelor's degree program in dental office management can be hard to find. Students who wish to pursue this line of education may want to consider an online bachelor's degree in medical office management or healthcare management.An online bachelor's degree program in medical office management or healthcare management can prepare students for leadership positions in multiple medical office management settings.
Typical duration: Four years of full-time study
General prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; some programs may require work experience in the healthcare field
Typical coursework: Coursework typically includes business and management topics related to medical settings along with the technical aspects of delivering efficient and reliable healthcare. Courses may include:
- Principles of marketing
- Quantitative decision making
- Healthcare finance
- Organizational development and leadership in healthcare
- Technology applications in healthcare
- Healthcare delivery systems, regulation, and compliance
- Healthcare research and statistics
Additionally, you may need to complete a capstone project.
Possible electives: Epidemiology and applied healthcare statistics; healthcare human resource management; current issues in healthcare
What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?
Potential occupations after earning a bachelor's degree include:
- Medical records and health information technician
- Dental office manager
- Medical office manager
- Department manager
- Nursing home administrators
- Clinical managers
- Health information managers
- Medical records managers
- Social service managers
- Community service managers
Online Master's Degree Programs in Healthcare Administration
What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?
An online master's degree in medical office management can be of two types:
- Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA)
- Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration (MBA/HCA)
The MHA degree program can be a good choice for individuals already working in the field of healthcare looking to move to management position. The MBA/HCA degree program may be better suited for individuals with a business background looking to specialize in the field of healthcare.
Online master's medical office management degree programs and are often designed for leadership development focusing on specialized business and management skills required for running a medical facility.
Typical duration: One to two years of full-time study
General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree; some programs may require work experience in the healthcare industry
Typical coursework: Courses can include:
- MBA leadership
- Accounting methods for leaders
- Operations management for leaders
- Analyzing the healthcare environment
- Driving healthcare results
- Healthcare law and policy
- Healthcare quality, risk, and regulatory compliance
You may also have to complete a capstone project.
Possible electives: Human capital management in healthcare; healthcare consumerism and marketing; comparative models of global health systems; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals; negotiation in healthcare settings
What can I do after earning a master's degree?
A master's degree can help working professionals in the healthcare industry to aim for higher level positions of responsibility in healthcare management or in policy-making. Some potential occupations are:
- Clinical manager
- Chief executive officer
- Health director
- Program director
- Administrative director
- Medical director
- Practice manager
- Account manager
- Executive director
- Medical records manager
- Director of healthcare quality
- Director of consumer engagement/experience
- Director of consumer engagement/experience
Online Doctoral Degree Programs in Healthcare Administration and Management
What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?
A few qualifications you can look at achieving at the doctoral level include:
- Doctor of Health Administration (DHA)
- Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Healthcare Management
- Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
- Doctor of Education (EdD) in Health Sciences
You may be eligible for a number of different academic and high-level careers in the healthcare management industry after earning your doctoral degree. You may be able to work as an independent researcher, in academia or at senior executive positions.
Accreditation is an important factor to consider when choosing an online degree program. In order to obtain professional certifications or licenses you may be required to graduate from an accredited program. Financial aid options are usually limited to those who enroll in an accredited school or program. A few accrediting bodies for medical and dental management programs include:
- Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics & Information Management (CAHIIM)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education (CAAHEP)
- Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)
Certifications and Licensures
Professional certifications for medical and dental office managers are voluntary but can serve to show a deeper commitment to the industry.
- The Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) is offered by Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB)
- Medical practice managers can obtain a Certified Physician Practice Manager (CPPM) through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
- Certification in medical management is offered by the Professional Association of Healthcare Office Management
Licensing requirements can vary from state to state.