How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Stone Park Illinois
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Stone Park IL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Stone Park IL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though Stone Park IL medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Illinois law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Education and Certification
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Stone Park IL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Stone Park IL employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in area Illinois medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Stone Park IL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Stone Park IL or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing 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 significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching Illinois programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Stone Park IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Stone Park IL area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Stone Park IL area schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many Illinois medical assistant programs offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Stone Park IL medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers in the Stone Park IL area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program in the Stone Park IL area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Stone Park IL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Stone Park IL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Stone Park IL.
Why Did You Want to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask applicants is "What compelled you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you should prepare some ideas about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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