How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Villanova Pennsylvania
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Villanova PA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Villanova PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although Villanova PA medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some choose 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Villanova PA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Villanova PA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to 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 additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically 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 mode of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Villanova PA is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Villanova PA or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when evaluating Pennsylvania programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Villanova PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Villanova PA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Villanova PA area schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Villanova PA health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Villanova PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication 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 greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Villanova PA area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Villanova PA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant School in Villanova PA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Villanova PA.
Why Did You Desire to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask applicants is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you want to answer them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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