How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Telford Pennsylvania
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Telford PA, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Telford PA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Telford PA medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Pennsylvania law, some choose 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Telford PA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available 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 courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Telford PA employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly 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 examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative 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 Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in regional Pennsylvania healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Telford PA is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Telford PA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when evaluating Pennsylvania programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Telford PA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Telford PA area medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Telford PA area colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Pennsylvania medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Telford PA healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 Telford PA area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Telford PA area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Telford 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 still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant Course in Telford PA
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch 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 appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Telford PA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize several approaches about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Some Cities in Pennsylvania That May Be Of Interest