There are several different types of medical associate's degrees in areas such as nursing, dental assistance, radiation therapy, diagnostic medical sonography and healthcare administration. These medical associate's degrees are two-year programs usually available through community colleges, and they are a cost-effective alternative to four-year, bachelor's degree programs at universities. These degrees help prepare students for successful careers as a registered nurse, diagnostic medical sonographer, radiologist or medical assistant, as well as a dental assistant, medical records manager or medical technologist. Many medical associate's degrees are available inexpensively at community colleges or technical schools, and some classes are even offered online.
An associate's degree in nursing is an alternative to the typical four-year bachelor of science nursing degree, and it focuses more on knowledge of technical nursing skills rather than nursing theory. This two-year degree program allows a student to become a registered nurse (RN) and obtain an entry-level technical nursing job. Graduates with an associate's degree in nursing can begin practicing as a registered nurse or use the associate's degree as a steppingstone for further pursuit of a bachelor of science degree, which is the requirement for many professional nursing positions.
A dental assistant associate degree prepares students to work in a dentist's office and assist with teeth cleanings, surgeries and other basic oral care. Specific courses might include dental hygiene, oral anatomy, preventative oral care and patient relations. Classroom training also will be supplemented by relevant clinical training. Students who complete a dental assistant associate degree can obtain an entry-level position as a dental assistant.
Medical associate's degrees in radiation therapy provide the skills needed to work with oncologists and radiologists and to help provide radiation treatment for cancer patients. Relevant coursework includes radiologic patient care, anatomy, radon principles, medical terminology and technical writing. Graduates who have an associate's degree in radiation therapy can work with cancer patients in hospitals and doctor's offices.
An associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography is a good option for students who have a combined interest in technology and healthcare. This degree provides students with the skills to properly run ultrasound technology equipment and communicate the results effectively with healthcare providers. Courses will include anatomy, sonographic imaging, ultrasound, scanning techniques and medical terminology.
Medical associate's degrees in medical records management provide students with the skills necessary to organize, track and manage patient medical records in a physician's office or hospital. A position as a medical records manager is a good choice for someone who has outstanding organizational skills as well as a passion for the medical field. Coursework includes anatomy, medical terminology, database management, medical office procedures and computer applications.
An associate's degree in medical billing and coding also is available. This degree prepares graduates to work in hospitals, doctor's offices or for insurance companies in the medical reimbursement field. Courses include medical office protocol, introduction to health care financing, medical terminology, international classification of diseases and understanding insurance claims.