How to Choose a Medical Assistant Classes in Houghton Michigan
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Houghton MI, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most potential 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 cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, 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 briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Houghton MI hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though Houghton MI medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Michigan law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Houghton MI employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical 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 similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Houghton MI employers just will not hire 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in area Michigan medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Houghton MI is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Houghton MI or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when assessing Michigan schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To start 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Houghton MI employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Houghton MI area medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school’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. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Houghton MI area schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Michigan medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Houghton MI health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Houghton MI area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school in the Houghton MI area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Houghton MI, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant School in Houghton MI
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Houghton MI.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask candidates is "What made you choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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