How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Bellingham Massachusetts
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Bellingham MA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Bellingham MA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions 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 tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though Bellingham MA medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Massachusetts law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Programs and Certification
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Bellingham MA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at community and junior 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 classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Bellingham MA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided 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. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in regional Massachusetts medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Bellingham MA is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Bellingham MA or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when researching Massachusetts schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Bellingham MA 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 Bellingham MA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Bellingham MA area colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Massachusetts medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Bellingham MA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers in the Bellingham MA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller 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 sit in on a few classes before selecting a school in the Bellingham MA area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Bellingham MA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Program in Bellingham MA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering 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 organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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 online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bellingham MA.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask applicants is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to ready some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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