How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Strasburg Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Strasburg PA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 issues also. You might choose to look into 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 complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Strasburg PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Strasburg PA medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training and Certification
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Strasburg PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical 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 frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical 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 related field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Strasburg PA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in regional Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Strasburg PA is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Strasburg PA or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating Pennsylvania schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Strasburg PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Strasburg PA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Strasburg PA area schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Strasburg PA medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Strasburg PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program in the Strasburg PA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Strasburg PA, make sure 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 internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant College in Strasburg PA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Strasburg PA.
Why Did You Want to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask prospects is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several approaches about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Some Cities in Pennsylvania That May Be Of Interest