How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Springvale Maine
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Springvale ME, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Springvale ME hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While Springvale ME medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Maine law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered 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
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Springvale ME employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to 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 classes. They usually have a clinical element 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 related field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Springvale ME employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in regional Maine healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Springvale ME is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Springvale ME or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing Maine programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Springvale ME employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Springvale ME area medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need 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 one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Springvale ME area colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Maine medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Springvale ME medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers in the Springvale ME area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can 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 furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college in the Springvale ME area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s important that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Springvale ME, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program in Springvale ME
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether 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 must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Springvale ME.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask applicants is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare some approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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