How to Pick a Medical Assistant Training in South Carolina
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in South Carolina, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each 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 available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the South Carolina hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under South Carolina law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices available 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 Programs and Certification
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many South Carolina employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible South Carolina employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in local South Carolina healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating South Carolina schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective South Carolina employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited South Carolina medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the South Carolina schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of South Carolina medical assistant schools offer internship programs with local medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers in South Carolina to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program in South Carolina to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in South Carolina, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Course in South Carolina
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin 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 before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in South Carolina.