How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Decatur Indiana
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Decatur IN, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Decatur IN hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Decatur IN medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Indiana law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Decatur IN employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally 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 ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Decatur IN employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps 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 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice 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 option for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in local Indiana medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Decatur IN is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Decatur IN or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing Indiana programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Decatur IN employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Decatur IN area medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, 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 about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Decatur IN area schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Indiana medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Decatur IN health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Decatur IN area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Decatur IN area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Decatur IN, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Training in Decatur IN
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Decatur IN.
Why Did You Decide to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask candidates is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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