How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Staunton Illinois
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Staunton IL, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Staunton IL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Staunton IL medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training and Certification
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Staunton IL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Staunton IL employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in regional Illinois medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Staunton IL is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Staunton IL or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when assessing Illinois schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Staunton IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Staunton IL area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Staunton IL area colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous Illinois medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Staunton IL healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers in the Staunton IL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program in the Staunton IL area to witness 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 working full time, it’s essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Staunton IL, make sure 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 will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training in Staunton IL
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Staunton IL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize some strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
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