How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Training in Ohio
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Ohio, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Ohio hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can 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 health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Ohio 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Ohio employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Ohio employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded 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 graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in regional Ohio health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when researching Ohio programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Ohio employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Ohio medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring 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 about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Ohio schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Ohio medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with regional medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance 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 program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in Ohio to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college in Ohio to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work 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 in the evenings or on weekends in Ohio, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Ohio
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Ohio.