How to Select a Medical Assistant School in Bala Cynwyd Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Bala Cynwyd PA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin 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, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want 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 finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Bala Cynwyd PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though Bala Cynwyd PA medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Pennsylvania 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 Education and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Bala Cynwyd PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two 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 medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Bala Cynwyd PA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in area Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Bala Cynwyd PA is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant program options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Bala Cynwyd PA or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating Pennsylvania schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure 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 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Bala Cynwyd PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Bala Cynwyd PA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must 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 naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer 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 get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Bala Cynwyd PA area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Bala Cynwyd PA medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Bala Cynwyd PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during 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 possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college in the Bala Cynwyd PA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Bala Cynwyd PA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant Program in Bala Cynwyd PA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided 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 choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bala Cynwyd PA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask candidates is "What made you select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare some ideas about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
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