How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program in Bensalem Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Bensalem PA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Bensalem PA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although Bensalem PA medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 Courses and Certification
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Bensalem PA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Bensalem PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. 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 might be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in regional Pennsylvania medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Bensalem PA is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Bensalem PA or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit 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 need to look at when evaluating Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college 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 must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Bensalem PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Bensalem PA area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting 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, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Bensalem PA area schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Pennsylvania medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Bensalem PA healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts in the Bensalem PA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might 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 teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program in the Bensalem PA area to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Bensalem PA, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Bensalem PA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make 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 ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Bensalem PA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask applicants is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize a number of strategies about how you would like to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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