How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training in Bath Pennsylvania
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Bath PA, 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 enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Bath PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Bath PA medical assistants can carry out 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 available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses and Certification
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Bath PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided 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 one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Bath PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in area Pennsylvania medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Bath PA is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant program alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Bath PA or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when researching Pennsylvania schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in 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 intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Bath PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Bath PA area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Bath PA area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with regional health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Bath PA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Bath PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school in the Bath PA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Bath PA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training in Bath PA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bath PA.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask prospects is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you should ready some approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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