How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program in Salem Connecticut
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Salem CT, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Salem CT clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Salem CT medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Connecticut law, some opt 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 Training Programs and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Salem CT employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Salem CT 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) 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. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in regional Connecticut medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Salem CT is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Salem CT or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating Connecticut schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the school you select 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 intend to become certified, you must complete 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 program is not accredited by either 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 aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Salem CT employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Salem CT area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out 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 those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Salem CT area colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Connecticut medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Salem CT healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Salem CT area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Salem CT area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Salem CT, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Program in Salem CT
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 Salem CT.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask candidates is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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