How to Select a Medical Assistant Classes in Shenandoah Pennsylvania
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Shenandoah PA, it’s time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Shenandoah PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may 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 health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While Shenandoah PA medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Shenandoah PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided 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 1 year to finish, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate 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 practice. Associate Degrees are often 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, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Shenandoah PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in area Pennsylvania medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Shenandoah PA is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Shenandoah PA or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when assessing Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Shenandoah PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Shenandoah PA area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Shenandoah PA area schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Shenandoah PA healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts in the Shenandoah PA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Shenandoah PA area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Shenandoah PA, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Shenandoah PA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Shenandoah PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask applicants is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must ready several strategies about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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