How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in North South Carolina
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in North SC, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the North SC hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities 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 nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While North SC medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under South Carolina law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many North SC employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential North SC employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in area South Carolina health care 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 right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in North SC is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near North SC or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when researching South Carolina programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential North SC employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited North SC area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the North SC area schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many South Carolina medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the North SC health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the North SC area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college in the North SC area to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in North SC, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in North SC
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re objective 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 get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget 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 North SC.
Why Did You Want to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask applicants is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several approaches about how you would like to address them. Since there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Some Cities in South Carolina That May Be Of Interest