How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Stephens City Virginia
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Stephens City VA, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Stephens City VA hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Stephens City VA medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Virginia law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Programs and Certification
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Stephens City VA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Stephens City VA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might 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 degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in regional Virginia health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Stephens City VA is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Stephens City 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 colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when evaluating Virginia programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Stephens City VA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Stephens City VA area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Stephens City VA area colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of Virginia medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Stephens City VA medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Stephens City VA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school in the Stephens City VA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Stephens City VA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Course in Stephens City VA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. 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 discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Stephens City VA.
Why Did You Want to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask applicants is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready some approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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