How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Savannah Georgia
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Savannah GA, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Savannah GA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Savannah GA medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Georgia law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Savannah GA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Savannah GA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply 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 offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in area Georgia medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Savannah GA is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Savannah GA or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating Georgia programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Savannah GA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Savannah GA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting 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, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Savannah GA area colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Georgia medical assistant programs offer internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Savannah GA medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers in the Savannah GA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Savannah GA area to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Savannah GA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Program in Savannah GA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper 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 must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Savannah GA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask prospects is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize some ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Some Cities in Georgia That May Be Of Interest