How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School in Greenbelt Maryland
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Greenbelt MD, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all 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 Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Greenbelt MD clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving 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 functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Greenbelt MD medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Maryland law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Greenbelt MD employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Greenbelt MD employers just will not hire 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) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in area Maryland medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Greenbelt MD is furnished.
Questions 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 near Greenbelt MD or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating Maryland schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. First, 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 enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Greenbelt MD employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Greenbelt MD area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Greenbelt MD area schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Maryland medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with regional medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Greenbelt MD health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers in the Greenbelt MD area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college in the Greenbelt MD area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Greenbelt MD, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Select the Right Medical Assistant College in Greenbelt MD
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal 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 acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Greenbelt MD.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask candidates is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you should ready a number of ideas about how you want to answer them. Considering there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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