How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Sarasota Florida
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Sarasota FL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Sarasota FL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although Sarasota FL medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Florida law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Sarasota FL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 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 option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Sarasota FL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in local Florida health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Sarasota FL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Sarasota FL or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when assessing Florida programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 accepted agencies 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Sarasota FL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Sarasota FL area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the Sarasota FL area schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Florida medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Sarasota FL health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Sarasota FL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Sarasota FL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Sarasota FL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Sarasota FL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Sarasota FL.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What made you pick medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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