How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Arnold Missouri
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Arnold MO, it’s time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line 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 help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Arnold MO clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting 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 Arnold MO medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Missouri law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Arnold MO employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Arnold MO employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided 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 thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in area Missouri medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Arnold MO is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Arnold MO or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when researching Missouri schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Arnold MO employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Arnold MO area medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must 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 example, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Arnold MO area colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Missouri medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Arnold MO healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Arnold MO area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Arnold MO area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Arnold MO, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program in Arnold MO
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Arnold MO.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask prospects is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare several strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Some Cities in Missouri That May Be Of Interest