How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Training in Summerdale Pennsylvania
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Summerdale 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 enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Summerdale PA clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out 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 general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Summerdale PA medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs and Certification
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Summerdale PA employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest 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 fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Summerdale PA employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in area Pennsylvania healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Summerdale PA is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Summerdale PA or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Summerdale PA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Summerdale PA area medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Summerdale PA area schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Pennsylvania medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Summerdale PA medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Summerdale PA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Summerdale PA area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Summerdale PA, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Summerdale PA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on 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 online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Summerdale PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask candidates is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you want to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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