How to Pick a Medical Assistant Classes in Atglen Pennsylvania
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Atglen PA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Atglen PA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities 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 fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although Atglen PA medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some choose 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs and Certification
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Atglen PA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Atglen PA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided 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 offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option 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 alternative for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in area Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Atglen PA is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Atglen PA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when researching Pennsylvania 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 final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Atglen PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Atglen PA area medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn 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 assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Atglen PA area colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Atglen PA health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts in the Atglen PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college in the Atglen PA area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Atglen PA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program in Atglen PA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Atglen PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask applicants is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should organize some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Because there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
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