How to Pick a Medical Assistant Course in Nebraska
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Nebraska, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools 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 kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Nebraska clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Nebraska law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Programs and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Nebraska employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Nebraska employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in regional Nebraska 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 choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating Nebraska programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Nebraska employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Nebraska medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Nebraska colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Nebraska medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in Nebraska to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program in Nebraska to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Nebraska, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant School in Nebraska
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. 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 covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Nebraska.