How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School in Michigan
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Michigan, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of potential 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Michigan clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities 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 fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Michigan law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Michigan employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Michigan employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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). In order 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. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for those 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 choice for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in local Michigan medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential 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 several additional factors that you need to examine when assessing Michigan schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive 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 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Michigan employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Michigan medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Michigan schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Michigan medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in Michigan to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college in Michigan to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Michigan, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Michigan
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re goal 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 before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Michigan.