How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Fairmont West Virginia
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Fairmont WV, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal 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 cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Fairmont WV hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although Fairmont WV medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under West Virginia law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Fairmont WV employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As earlier stated, certification 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 a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Fairmont WV employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance 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 accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in local West Virginia medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Fairmont WV is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Fairmont WV or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when researching West Virginia schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Fairmont WV employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Fairmont WV area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Fairmont WV area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous West Virginia medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Fairmont WV healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and ask 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 signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Fairmont WV area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college in the Fairmont WV area to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Fairmont WV, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Program in Fairmont WV
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be 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 subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fairmont WV.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask prospects is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must ready a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Some Cities in West Virginia That May Be Of Interest