How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Louisiana
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Louisiana, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Louisiana clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities 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 fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Louisiana law, some choose to specialize in a particular 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 Training and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Louisiana employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Louisiana employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in regional Louisiana healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant program alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when assessing Louisiana schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Louisiana employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Louisiana medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to 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 naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Louisiana schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Louisiana medical assistant programs offer internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in Louisiana to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college in Louisiana to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Louisiana, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant Course in Louisiana
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Louisiana.