How to Pick a Medical Assistant Program in Oakmont Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Oakmont PA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Oakmont PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can 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 may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Oakmont PA medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Oakmont PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available 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 usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Oakmont PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA 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 an excellent choice for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in regional Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Oakmont PA is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Oakmont PA or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating Pennsylvania schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Oakmont PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Oakmont PA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Oakmont PA area schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Oakmont PA health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers in the Oakmont PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? 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 likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school in the Oakmont PA area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Oakmont PA, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Oakmont PA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Oakmont PA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask prospects is "What made you select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to organize some ideas about how you would like to address them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Some Cities in Pennsylvania That May Be Of Interest