How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Classes in Lowell Massachusetts
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Lowell MA, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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 type 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. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Lowell MA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While Lowell MA medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Massachusetts law, some prefer 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 Courses and Certification
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Lowell MA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options available 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 a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Lowell MA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in regional Massachusetts health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Lowell MA is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Lowell MA or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, 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 assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Lowell MA 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 Lowell MA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Lowell MA area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Massachusetts medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Lowell MA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Lowell MA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school in the Lowell MA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Lowell MA, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Course in Lowell MA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lowell MA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you should prepare some approaches about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
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