How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Course in Oregon
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Oregon, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Oregon hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending 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 giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Oregon law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Oregon employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Oregon employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the 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 certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in local Oregon health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. 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 lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when assessing Oregon schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Oregon employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Oregon medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Oregon schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Oregon medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts in Oregon to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program in Oregon to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Oregon, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Oregon
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Oregon.