How to Choose a Medical Assistant Course in Drexel Hill Pennsylvania
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Drexel Hill PA, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting 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 Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Drexel Hill PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Drexel Hill PA medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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 and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Drexel Hill PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Drexel Hill PA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in area Pennsylvania medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Drexel Hill PA is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Drexel Hill PA or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening 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 qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating Pennsylvania schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Drexel Hill PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Drexel Hill PA area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Drexel Hill PA area schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Drexel Hill PA medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Drexel Hill PA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program in the Drexel Hill PA area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Drexel Hill PA, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Drexel Hill PA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Drexel Hill PA.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask applicants is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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