How to Select a Medical Assistant School in Benton Harbor Michigan
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Benton Harbor MI, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” 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 available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Benton Harbor MI clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may 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 practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Benton Harbor MI medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Michigan law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 and Certification
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Benton Harbor MI employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest 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 six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical 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 related field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Benton Harbor MI employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in area Michigan healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Benton Harbor MI is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Benton Harbor MI or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when assessing Michigan schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start 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 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Benton Harbor MI employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Benton Harbor MI area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need 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. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Benton Harbor MI area schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Michigan medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with local health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Benton Harbor MI health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in the Benton Harbor MI area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program in the Benton Harbor MI area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it’s essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Benton Harbor MI, make certain that those times are offered. 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, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant Course in Benton Harbor MI
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Benton Harbor MI.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must organize some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the talents you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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