How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Petersburg Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Petersburg PA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist 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 talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Petersburg PA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although Petersburg PA medical assistants may 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 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 Courses and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Petersburg PA employers choose to 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 quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Petersburg PA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in local Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Petersburg PA is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Petersburg PA or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when researching Pennsylvania schools. To help 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 final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Petersburg PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Petersburg PA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out 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 example, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out 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 evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Petersburg PA area schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Petersburg PA healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Petersburg 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. 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 sit in on a few classes before selecting a college in the Petersburg 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 school while you continue working full-time, it’s important that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Petersburg PA, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Course in Petersburg PA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Petersburg PA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask prospects is "What made you select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready several ideas about how you want to address them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Some Cities in Pennsylvania That May Be Of Interest