How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Course in Leechburg Pennsylvania
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Leechburg PA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. 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 complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Leechburg PA hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although Leechburg PA medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some opt 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Leechburg PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Leechburg PA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in regional Pennsylvania medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Leechburg PA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant program options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Leechburg PA or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when assessing Pennsylvania programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Leechburg PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Leechburg PA area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Leechburg PA area colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with regional medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Leechburg PA medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Leechburg PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Leechburg PA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Leechburg PA, confirm 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 practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Leechburg PA
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick 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 on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Leechburg PA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask applicants is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you want to answer them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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