How to Choose a Medical Assistant Course in Slatington Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Slatington PA, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Slatington PA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Slatington PA medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Courses and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Slatington PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Slatington PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in regional Pennsylvania healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Slatington PA is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Slatington PA or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Slatington PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Slatington PA area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to 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 example, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Slatington PA area schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Slatington PA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers in the Slatington PA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Slatington 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 working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Slatington PA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program in Slatington PA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be 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 ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Slatington PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask applicants is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and anecdotes 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 interviewer.
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