How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Berrien Springs Michigan
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Berrien Springs MI, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Berrien Springs MI hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Berrien Springs MI medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Michigan law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Berrien Springs MI employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Berrien Springs MI employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in local Michigan medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Berrien Springs MI is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Berrien Springs MI or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when assessing Michigan programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Berrien Springs MI employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Berrien Springs MI area medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Berrien Springs MI area schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many Michigan medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Berrien Springs MI medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Berrien Springs MI area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school in the Berrien Springs MI area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Berrien Springs MI, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Berrien Springs MI
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Berrien Springs MI.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask candidates is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should ready some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Some Cities in Michigan That May Be Of Interest