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The Medical Office Administration curriculum at Halifax Community College (HCC) shares in the college's 40th anniversary during the week of April 1-7. Just as HCC has evolved over the past 40 years to meet the changing needs of the community, so has the Medical Office Program.

The program's roots reach back to 1968 under the Medical Secretary Program at Halifax County Technical Institute. Thirty-nine Medical Secretary graduates were awarded degrees between 1968 -1989. It was then expanded under the Medical Office Technology name, awarding 34 degrees between 1990 -1997. In 1997, the community college system switched from the quarter system to the semester system. During the years between 1998-2001, Office Systems Technology Medical Office concentration, awarded 33 degrees and two diplomas.

In 2002, the program name was changed to Medical Office Administration, awarding 68 degrees and 33 diplomas from 2002 - 2006. Between 1968-2006, medical office programs have awarded a total of 174 degrees and 54 diplomas to deserving graduates.

In the Halifax County Technical Institute 1968-1969 catalog, the Medical Secretary Purpose of Curriculum stated, "The demand for better qualified medical secretaries in our ever-demanding medical profession is becoming more acute. The purpose of this curriculum is to provide specialized training in the accepted procedures required by the medical profession and to enable persons to become proficient . . . in the medical and health professions." The Medical Secretary Program skills required in the medical office in 1968 included shorthand, typewriting skills and office machines. With the addition of computers and advanced technology, medical office skills now require knowledge of medical terminology.

HCC students are exposed to medical terminology, computerized medical insurance, billing, coding, records management, desktop publishing and medical office simulation software. Students now have the tools necessary to successfully compete for positions in health care facilities. Just as workplace requirements have galloped into the computer age, so have HCC and the Medical Office Administration curriculum. While the skills required in the 21st century differ from those in 1968, the purpose has not changed. The Medical Office Administration curriculum prepares students to compete for positions in medical and other health related industries.

Graduates are equipped for both administrative and support positions in any medical environment. With the anticipated growth in this area and the increase in the average population age, the medical and health care field is one of the fastest growing employment areas. Job applicants who are well trained to meet the various needs will be better equipped to obtain positions and grow within the industry. The ability to change with new emerging technologies in health care will enhance employee advancement within this industry.

The Medical Office Administration curriculum offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in addition to the one-year diploma. For additional information regarding this curriculum, contact HCC Medical Office Administration Department Head/Instructor Debbie Boone at (252) 536-6377 or e-mail booned@halifaxcc.edu.