How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program in Valley Forge Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Valley Forge PA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Valley Forge PA clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although Valley Forge PA medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs and Certification
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Valley Forge PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Valley Forge PA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in local Pennsylvania health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Valley Forge PA is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Valley Forge PA or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating 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 final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Valley Forge PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Valley Forge PA area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, 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 schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Valley Forge PA area schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Valley Forge PA medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts in the Valley Forge PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Valley Forge PA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Valley Forge PA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Valley Forge PA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Valley Forge PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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