How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Owings Maryland
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Owings MD, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to 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 available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Owings MD hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. 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 responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although Owings MD medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Maryland law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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 Courses and Certification
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Owings MD employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with trade 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 clinical component involving 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 similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Owings MD employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in local Maryland health 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 may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Owings MD is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Owings MD or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating Maryland programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee 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 acknowledged agencies 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 examination. Additionally, if you intend on 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 Owings MD employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Owings MD area medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Owings MD area schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Maryland medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Owings MD medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Owings MD area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Owings MD area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Owings MD, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Owings MD
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be 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 start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Owings MD.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask applicants is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you must organize a number of ideas about how you would like to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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