How to Pick a Medical Assistant Program in Pittston Pennsylvania
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Pittston PA, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 important issues as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Pittston PA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though Pittston PA medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Pittston PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Pittston PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in area Pennsylvania healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Pittston PA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Pittston PA or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when researching Pennsylvania programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Pittston PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Pittston PA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Pittston PA area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant programs offer internship programs with local health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Pittston PA medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Pittston PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program in the Pittston PA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Pittston PA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Training in Pittston PA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Pittston PA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask prospects is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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