How to Pick a Medical Assistant Program in Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Jim Thorpe PA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Jim Thorpe PA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Jim Thorpe PA medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Courses and Certification
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Jim Thorpe PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior 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 clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Jim Thorpe PA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate 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.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for students who might not have 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 certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in area Pennsylvania medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree 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. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Jim Thorpe PA is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Jim Thorpe PA or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating Pennsylvania schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, 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 must complete 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible 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 finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Jim Thorpe PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited Jim Thorpe PA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn 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 naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma 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 decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Jim Thorpe PA area schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Jim Thorpe PA medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts in the Jim Thorpe PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program in the Jim Thorpe PA area to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Jim Thorpe PA, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College in Jim Thorpe PA
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Jim Thorpe PA.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask candidates is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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