How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Texas
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Texas, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Texas clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners 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 verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Texas law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training and Certification
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Texas employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element 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 similar field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Texas employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in regional Texas health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when researching Texas programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Texas employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Texas medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must 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 naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Texas schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many Texas medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional medical providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts in Texas to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may 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 prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college in Texas to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Texas, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Medical Assistant School in Texas
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right 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 life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Texas.