How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Portsmouth Virginia
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Portsmouth VA, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Portsmouth VA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While Portsmouth VA medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Virginia law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Training Programs and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Portsmouth VA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component 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 idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Portsmouth VA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for students who might not have the 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 to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in local Virginia medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Portsmouth VA is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Portsmouth VA or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing Virginia programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Portsmouth VA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Portsmouth VA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Portsmouth VA area colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of Virginia medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Portsmouth VA healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers in the Portsmouth VA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Portsmouth VA area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Portsmouth VA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant College in Portsmouth VA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided 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 best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Portsmouth VA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask prospects is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must ready a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through 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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