How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program in South Houston Texas
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in South Houston TX, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included some 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 function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the South Houston TX clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although South Houston TX medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Texas law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many South Houston TX employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical 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 related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential South Houston TX employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in area Texas medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in South Houston TX is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near South Houston TX or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest 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 considerations that you need to look at when assessing Texas schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the college you choose 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential South Houston TX employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited South Houston TX area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs 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 want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths 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, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the South Houston TX area colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of Texas medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the South Houston TX health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the South Houston TX area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school in the South Houston TX area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in South Houston TX, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant College in South Houston TX
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in South Houston TX.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask prospects is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you would like to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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