How to Choose a Medical Assistant Classes in Holyoke Massachusetts
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Holyoke MA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Holyoke MA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although Holyoke MA medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Massachusetts law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Holyoke MA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (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 generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Holyoke MA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in regional Massachusetts medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Holyoke MA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Holyoke MA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating Massachusetts programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Holyoke MA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Holyoke MA area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining 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, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Holyoke MA area colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Massachusetts medical assistant schools offer internship programs with local medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Holyoke MA medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial 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 provide job placement assistance and ask 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 healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Holyoke MA area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college in the Holyoke MA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Holyoke MA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant College in Holyoke MA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Holyoke MA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize several approaches about how you would like to address them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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