How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Training in Washington District of Columbia
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Washington DC, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Washington DC hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Washington DC medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under District of Columbia law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs and Certification
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Washington DC employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Washington DC employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in local District of Columbia medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Washington DC is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Washington DC or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when assessing District of Columbia schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Washington DC employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Washington DC area medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Washington DC area colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many District of Columbia medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Washington DC medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Washington DC area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college in the Washington DC area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Washington DC, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Washington DC
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Washington DC.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Some Cities in District of Columbia That May Be Of Interest