How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Elm Grove Louisiana
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Elm Grove LA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting 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 included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Elm Grove LA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though Elm Grove LA medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Louisiana law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Elm Grove LA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Elm Grove LA employers simply will not hire 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the 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 earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in area Louisiana medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Elm Grove LA is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Elm Grove LA or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing Louisiana programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To begin 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Elm Grove LA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Elm Grove LA area medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Elm Grove LA area schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Louisiana medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Elm Grove LA health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Elm Grove LA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program in the Elm Grove LA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Elm Grove LA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Course in Elm Grove LA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Elm Grove LA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What compelled you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should organize a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Given that there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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