How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Plainwell Michigan
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Plainwell MI, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 critical factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should 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 credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Plainwell MI clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type 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 practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Plainwell MI medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Michigan law, some prefer 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 Training Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Plainwell MI employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options 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 normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Plainwell MI employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit 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 available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice 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 working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in area Michigan medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Plainwell MI is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant program options, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Plainwell MI or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict 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 issues that you must look at when researching Michigan programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Plainwell MI employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Plainwell MI area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask 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 evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Plainwell MI area schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Michigan medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Plainwell MI health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Plainwell MI area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school in the Plainwell MI area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Plainwell MI, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Program in Plainwell MI
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Plainwell MI.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask applicants is "What made you choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
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