How to Choose a Medical Assistant Course in New Hope Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in New Hope PA, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the New Hope PA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Based 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities 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 specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though New Hope PA medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Training Programs and Certification
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many New Hope PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential New Hope PA employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in regional Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in New Hope PA is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near New Hope PA or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when researching Pennsylvania programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential New Hope PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited New Hope PA area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting 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 opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the New Hope PA area colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional medical providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the New Hope PA health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the New Hope PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might 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 prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college in the New Hope PA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in New Hope PA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Program in New Hope PA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate 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 life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in New Hope PA.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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