How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Newport Rhode Island
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Newport RI, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start 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 important issues as well. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each 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 available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Newport RI hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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 working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though Newport RI medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Rhode Island law, some opt to specialize in a particular 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 Training and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Newport RI employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided 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 one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four 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 option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Newport RI employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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 exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in area Rhode Island medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Newport RI is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Newport RI or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating Rhode Island programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Newport RI employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Newport RI area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Newport RI area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Rhode Island medical assistant programs offer internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Newport RI health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers in the Newport RI area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college in the Newport RI area to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s important that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Newport RI, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant School in Newport RI
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many 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 an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Newport RI.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask candidates is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional 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 need to ready several ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the leading choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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