Medical Assistant Training Programs in Washington

How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Washington

Washington Medical Assistant completing internship trainingNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Washington, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 issues also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all 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 type of credentials and training that are available.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Washington clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working 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
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Washington law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses and Certification

In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Washington employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Washington employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected 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 be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

CMA working with children in WashingtonThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in area Washington medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to examining your medical assistant program alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when researching Washington schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure 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 acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Washington 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 Washington medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Washington schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many Washington medical assistant schools offer internship programs with local medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers in Washington to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program in Washington to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s important that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Washington, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Washington

It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Washington.

Some Cities in Washington That May Be Of Interest

  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Centralia WA 98531
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Cashmere WA 98815
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Bridgeport WA 98813
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Keyport WA 98345
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Starbuck WA 99359
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Redmond WA 98052
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Dixie WA 99329
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Satsop WA 98583
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Rice WA 99167
  • Medical Assistant Training Programs near Clinton WA 98236