Career Profile: Army Patient Administration Specialist
Duties and Responsibilities
Soldiers in military occupational specialty (MOS) 68G work around the globe in Army healthcare facilities providing administrative support to doctors, nurses, and patients by keeping and updating medical records, assisting with investigations into disability and liability, translating diagnoses and treatments into billing data, and managing the administrative aspect of medical offices.
Like civilian healthcare administrators, getting in on the ground floor in the Army is possible with only a high school diploma. The major difference, of course, is that instead of paying your way through a certification course, you'll just need to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and score 90 or above in clerical skills.
According to Rod Powers,, you'll also need to prove you can type at least 20 words per minute. (But come on, you can do better than that if you want to work at a keyboard all day.)
Beyond the physical, medical, and moral standards expected of any Army recruit, there are no other special qualifications required to get into MOS 68G. But GoArmy.com does suggest those interested in patient administration possess the "ability to keep organized and accurate records, [an] interest in English, mathematics, business administration and typing, [and a] preference for office work."
That last bit may be the hardest to swallow if your head is filled with action-packed Hollywood movies about the glory of war. It may be hard to shake those off in a culture that loves to tell stories about heroes, but let's be realistic: Service is about more than just fighting, and the soldiers who work behind the scenes keeping business up and running are a necessary part of the Army, especially in healthcare.
Plus, as we'll discuss next, being a soldier in healthcare administration means learning to hump your M-16 and kick-starting an education that you can translate directly into the civilian workforce later on.
For seven more weeks in the Lone Star State, basically-trained soldiers then become basically-trained patient administrators and medical coders. According to METC's course summary, the curriculum broadly includes:
- Healthcare Entitlements and Benefits
- Admission and Disposition Procedures
- Medical Records
- Automated Healthcare Information Systems
- Medical Terminology [Why, you ask? You'll need to be able to speak intelligently with doctors and nurses even if you aren't one.]
- Anatomy and Physiology [Ditto above, not to mention the fact that billing and coding require translating diagnoses and treatments into dollars and cents.]
- Line of Duty Determinations [Basically disability and liability investigations, best explained by Rod Powers in this fine article.]
- Physical Disability Evaluation System (PDES) [Don't ask me. We military folk do love to make equipment and computer systems with names that require acronyms.]
Once you graduate, you're ready to move out into one of many Army healthcare facilities and start serving your term, whether for four years or a full 20-year career. But how does this basic Army-paid education stack up to what you'd need to get your foot in the door on the outside?
Comparing careers in healthcare support, Dawn McKay points out that medical secretaries, though typically an out-of-high school position, still need formal training in medical terminology, and we can, of course, assume the same for medical transcriptionists. METC's course covers that. Likewise, Healthcare Careers Guide Andrea Santiago says that before and in addition to completing a formal course in billing and coding, Medical Coders should seek "a medical terminology course and anatomy course." Sound familiar from that list up above?
Of course, translating Army training and experience into a civilian career, later on, requires a bit of leg-work on your part.
Luckily, Army Credentialing Opportunities On Line (COOL) lists a plethora of certifications related to working as a 68G that can be paid for with GI Bill money and even enhances promotion opportunities within the Army:
- Certified Coding Associate or Specialist
- Certified Medical Administrative Assistant
- Certified Medical Assistant
- Certified Medical Transcriptionist
- Certified Professional Coder [through the American Academy of Professional Coders, as recommended by Andrea Santiago]
- Medical Technologist
- Registered Health Information Technician
GoArmy.com also highlights patient administration as an MOS that may benefit from enrollment in their Partnership for Youth Success (PAYS) Program, which "guarantees a job interview with military friendly employers" such as John Hopkins Hospital and Yale-New Haven.