How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Towanda Pennsylvania
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Towanda PA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by checking out 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Towanda PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can 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 medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While Towanda PA medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Towanda PA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Towanda PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for students who might not have 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 to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in local Pennsylvania medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Towanda PA is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Towanda PA or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when assessing Pennsylvania programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start 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 acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Towanda PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Towanda PA area medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Towanda PA area schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Towanda PA medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers in the Towanda PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Towanda PA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Towanda PA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Training in Towanda PA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Towanda PA.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers typically ask candidates is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare some approaches about how you would like to address them. Because there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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