How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training in Melrose Park Illinois
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Melrose Park IL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Melrose Park IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although Melrose Park IL medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Illinois law, some choose 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 Education and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Melrose Park IL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Melrose Park IL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for students who may 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 working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in local Illinois healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Melrose Park IL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Melrose Park IL or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing Illinois schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Melrose Park IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Melrose Park IL area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school’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 programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Melrose Park IL area colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Illinois medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Melrose Park IL medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little 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 school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts in the Melrose Park IL area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention 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 teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school in the Melrose Park IL area to witness 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 school while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Melrose Park IL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Melrose Park IL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, 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 right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Melrose Park IL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask applicants is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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