Medical Assistant Training Programs in Illinois

How to Select a Medical Assistant Course in Illinois

Illinois Medical Assistant completing internship trainingOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Illinois, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 training and credentials that are available.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Illinois hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Illinois law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Courses and Certification

Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Illinois employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Illinois employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

CMA working with children in IllinoisThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in area Illinois medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing Illinois programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Illinois employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Illinois medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program’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 school’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Illinois schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous Illinois medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts in Illinois to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college in Illinois to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Illinois, 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 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 issues.

Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Illinois

It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm 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 examination. But irrespective of the type 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 selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Illinois.

Some Cities in Illinois That May Be Of Interest

  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Johnston City IL 62951
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Vermont IL 61484
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Cortland IL 60112
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Fillmore IL 62032
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Jacksonville IL 62650
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Glasford IL 61533
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Ashley IL 62808
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Lena IL 61048
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Hinsdale IL 60521
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near West Chicago IL 60185