How to Select a Medical Assistant Training in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Punxsutawney PA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Punxsutawney PA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although Punxsutawney PA medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Education and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Punxsutawney PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Punxsutawney PA employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in regional Pennsylvania medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Punxsutawney PA is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Punxsutawney PA or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when assessing Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Punxsutawney PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Punxsutawney PA area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs 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 select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Punxsutawney PA area colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Pennsylvania medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Punxsutawney PA medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing 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 healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Punxsutawney PA area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator 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 furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program in the Punxsutawney PA area to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Punxsutawney PA, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Course in Punxsutawney PA
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools 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, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Punxsutawney PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask candidates is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should organize a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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