How to Select a Medical Assistant Classes in Conshohocken Pennsylvania
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Conshohocken PA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Conshohocken PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though Conshohocken PA medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training and Certification
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Conshohocken PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided 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 liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical 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 related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Conshohocken PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those 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 solution for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks 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 performed in local Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Conshohocken PA is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Conshohocken PA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning 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 qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when assessing Pennsylvania programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 agencies 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Conshohocken PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Conshohocken PA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Conshohocken PA area schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Pennsylvania medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Conshohocken PA health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Conshohocken PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Conshohocken PA area to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Conshohocken PA, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant School in Conshohocken PA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin 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 appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Conshohocken PA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask applicants is "What made you choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must ready some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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