How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School in Norcross Georgia
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Norcross GA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Norcross GA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may 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 medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While Norcross GA medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Georgia law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Norcross GA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Norcross GA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. 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 solution for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in regional Georgia health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Norcross GA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Norcross GA or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing Georgia programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Norcross GA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Norcross GA area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Norcross GA area colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Georgia medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Norcross GA medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Norcross GA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Norcross GA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Norcross GA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Norcross GA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch 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 information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Norcross GA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask prospects is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you should organize some approaches about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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