How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Lawrenceville Georgia
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Lawrenceville GA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Lawrenceville GA hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While Lawrenceville GA medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Georgia law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Lawrenceville GA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Lawrenceville GA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in local Georgia medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Lawrenceville GA is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Lawrenceville GA or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when assessing Georgia schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Lawrenceville GA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Lawrenceville GA area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Lawrenceville GA area schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Georgia medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Lawrenceville GA healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help 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 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 broad network of contacts in the Lawrenceville GA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get 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 possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college in the Lawrenceville GA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Lawrenceville GA, 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 still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant College in Lawrenceville GA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Lawrenceville GA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask prospects is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Some Cities in Georgia That May Be Of Interest