How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Albemarle North Carolina
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Albemarle NC, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” 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 offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Albemarle NC hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Albemarle NC medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under North Carolina law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Albemarle NC employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical 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 classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Albemarle NC employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for students 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 working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in area North Carolina medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Albemarle NC is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant program options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Albemarle NC or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when researching North Carolina schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Albemarle NC employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Albemarle NC area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on 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 methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Albemarle NC area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous North Carolina medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Albemarle NC medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers in the Albemarle NC area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program in the Albemarle NC area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Albemarle NC, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Course in Albemarle NC
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Albemarle NC.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask candidates is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and talents you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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