How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Southport Maine
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Southport ME, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Southport ME clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Southport ME medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Maine law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Southport ME employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 provided at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Southport ME employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in area Maine medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Southport ME is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Southport ME or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when evaluating Maine schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Southport ME employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Southport ME area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Southport ME area schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of Maine medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Southport ME medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers in the Southport ME area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school in the Southport ME area to observe 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 school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Southport ME, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant School in Southport ME
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal 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 right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure 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 ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Southport ME.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask candidates is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to address them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the abilities you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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