How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Classes in Maine
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Maine, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few 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 offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Maine hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Maine law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Courses and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Maine 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 offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to 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 training. They usually have a practical component 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 related field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Maine employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty 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.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in area Maine healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant program options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when assessing Maine programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college 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. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Maine 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 Maine medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine 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 naturally you will want to select a program focused on 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Maine colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Maine medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers in Maine to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college in Maine 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 full time, it’s imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Maine, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Maine
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Maine.