How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Mc Kean Pennsylvania
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Mc Kean PA, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” 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 offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Mc Kean PA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although Mc Kean PA medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Pennsylvania law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Mc Kean PA employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Mc Kean PA employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in local Pennsylvania medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Mc Kean PA is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Mc Kean PA or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when evaluating Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to 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 verify that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Mc Kean PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Mc Kean PA area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must 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 focused on that certification. Next, ask 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 assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Mc Kean PA area colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant schools offer internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Mc Kean PA medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Mc Kean PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college in the Mc Kean PA area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Mc Kean PA, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Select the Right Medical Assistant College in Mc Kean PA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Mc Kean PA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask applicants is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you must ready several approaches about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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