How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Riverdale Maryland
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Riverdale MD, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Riverdale MD hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While Riverdale MD medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Maryland law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Riverdale MD employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element involving 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 similar field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Riverdale MD employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative 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 option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in regional Maryland medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Riverdale MD is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Riverdale MD or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing Maryland programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Riverdale MD employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Riverdale MD area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Riverdale MD area colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Maryland medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with regional medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Riverdale MD healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Riverdale MD area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college in the Riverdale MD area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Riverdale MD, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant College in Riverdale MD
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin 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 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 upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Riverdale MD.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What made you choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize some strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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