How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School in New York
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in New York, it’s time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the New York clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under New York law, some choose to specialize in a particular 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 Programs and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of New York employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential New York employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in area New York health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating New York 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 ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To begin 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 approved 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential New York employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited New York medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the New York colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many New York medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with local health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts in New York to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college in New York to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it’s important that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in New York, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Program in New York
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide 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 life long career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in New York.