How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in South Dartmouth Massachusetts
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in South Dartmouth MA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. 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 prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the South Dartmouth MA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While South Dartmouth MA medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Massachusetts law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Training Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many South Dartmouth MA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element 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 related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible South Dartmouth MA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in regional Massachusetts medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in South Dartmouth MA is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant program options, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near South Dartmouth MA or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating Massachusetts schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should 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 make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective South Dartmouth MA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited South Dartmouth MA area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the South Dartmouth MA area colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous Massachusetts medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the South Dartmouth MA health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts in the South Dartmouth MA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout 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 possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college in the South Dartmouth MA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in South Dartmouth MA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant College in South Dartmouth MA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in South Dartmouth MA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
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