How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program in Newington Virginia
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Newington VA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 important factors also. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Newington VA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While Newington VA medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Virginia law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered 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 and Certification
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Newington VA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually 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 ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often 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 related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Newington VA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in regional Virginia healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Newington VA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Newington VA or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when researching Virginia programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Newington VA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Newington VA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Newington VA area colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many Virginia medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Newington VA healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers in the Newington VA area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school in the Newington VA area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Newington VA, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Newington VA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Newington VA.
Why Did You Desire to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask applicants is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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