Medical Assistant Training Programs in Pennsylvania

How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Medical Assistant completing internship trainingOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Pennsylvania, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

The Function of Medical Assistants

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Pennsylvania clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based 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 physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education and Certification

Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Pennsylvania employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Pennsylvania employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

CMA working with children in PennsylvaniaThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in regional Pennsylvania medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when evaluating Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Pennsylvania employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Pennsylvania schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out 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 medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in Pennsylvania to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program in Pennsylvania to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Pennsylvania, confirm 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 clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Pennsylvania

It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Pennsylvania.

Some Cities in Pennsylvania That May Be Of Interest

  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Shanksville PA 15560
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Yukon PA 15698
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Milford PA 18337
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Macungie PA 18062
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Transfer PA 16154
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Oak Ridge PA 16245
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Shenandoah PA 17976
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Bartonsville PA 18321
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Folcroft PA 19032
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Gettysburg PA 17325