How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Old Lyme Connecticut
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Old Lyme CT, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included some 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Old Lyme CT clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Old Lyme CT medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Connecticut law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Training Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Old Lyme CT employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Old Lyme CT employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in regional Connecticut medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Old Lyme CT is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Old Lyme CT or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when researching Connecticut programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Old Lyme CT employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Old Lyme CT area medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Old Lyme CT area schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of Connecticut medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Old Lyme CT health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Old Lyme CT area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school in the Old Lyme CT area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Old Lyme CT, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Course in Old Lyme CT
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Old Lyme CT.
Why Did You Decide to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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