JANUARY 28, 2016

JAMESTOWN, N.C. — Guilford Technical Community College’s online medical office administration program has been recognized as one of the best in the country. published the ranking based on academic quality, online offerings, cost and student aid.

“The reason our program is successful is we have high standards,” said Debbie Fondow, department chair of Health Care and Office Administration at GTCC. “We’re proud of what we do.”

GTCC offers an associate in applied science degree in medical office administration both in a traditional and online format. The curriculum prepares individuals for employment in medical and other health-care related offices. Course work includes medical terminology; information systems; office management; medical coding, billing and insurance; legal and ethical issues; and formatting and word processing. Students learn administrative and support functions and develop skills applicable in medical environments and upon graduation are prepared to work in medical and dental offices, hospitals, insurance companies, laboratories, medical supply companies, and other health-care related organizations.

Online students are required to complete an introduction to distance learning course to prepare them for online instruction and learning. The program incorporates basic skills as well as instruction in insurance, billing and coding. Students are also required to complete a capstone project at the end of their coursework and participate in an internship.

Fondow says that medical office administration appeals to students who want to work in health care but aren’t interested in the clinical component such as the duties that a nurse carries out. Furthermore, the health care field continues to experience huge growth. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

“Medical office is just a well-rounded opportunity for a student,” Fondow said. “Health care has stability and has promotion potential. All of our students who want to gain employment are getting employment. There’s such a need. Just think about all of the administrative work that goes on in a doctor’s office or hospital.”

Ella Roop, a 2015 graduate of GTCC’s online medical office administration program, accepted a position at the same office where she completed her internship while earning her degree at GTCC. Currently, she is the insurance specialist at Physical Medicine of the Carolinas in Kernersville and is solely responsible for all the insurance-related tasks in the office including insurance verifications, pre-authorizations, referrals and personal injury cases.

“My education and specifically the medical office administration program opened doors in my career that wouldn’t have been opened otherwise,” said Roop of Kernersville. “The program offered everything that I needed to be successful in my field. It is well-rounded … and gives students an education that will serve as a foundation to build on as they grow throughout their career.”

Completing the degree online also gave her flexibility.

“I appreciated that it allowed me to learn at my own pace,” she said. “The medical office administration degree offers a wealth of knowledge, and flexibility gave me the opportunity to absorb all of that knowledge unhurriedly and with purpose.”

Roop knew early on that she wanted a career in the medical field. The human body has always fascinated her but the behind-the-scenes office setting suited her personality, she says.

“Medical office administration has allowed me to have the best of both worlds,” she said. “I get to combine my love of medicine and my desire to help patients every day. There is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling in your career than when your passion and purpose collide.”

Guilford Technical Community College is the fourth largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from five campuses and a Small Business Center. Learn more at


— Carla Kucinski/GTCC