How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Gresham Oregon
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Gresham OR, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Gresham OR hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While Gresham OR medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Oregon law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Gresham OR employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Gresham OR employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in area Oregon healthcare 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 best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Gresham OR is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Gresham OR or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine 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 a number of additional factors that you should look at when assessing Oregon schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 accepted organizations 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 examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Gresham OR employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Gresham OR area medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out 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 of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, 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 methods to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Gresham OR area colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Oregon medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Gresham OR medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Gresham OR area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school in the Gresham OR area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Gresham OR, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Right Medical Assistant Program in Gresham OR
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Gresham OR.
Why Did You Choose to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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