How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Kansas City Missouri
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Kansas City MO, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Kansas City MO hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although Kansas City MO medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Missouri law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Kansas City MO employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Kansas City MO employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in area Missouri health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Kansas City MO is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant program options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Kansas City MO or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating Missouri programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose 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 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Kansas City MO employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Kansas City MO area medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Kansas City MO area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Missouri medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with local medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Kansas City MO medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Kansas City MO area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program in the Kansas City MO area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Kansas City MO, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Kansas City MO
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Kansas City MO.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask applicants is "What made you select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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