How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Lake Stevens Washington
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Lake Stevens WA, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by checking out 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Lake Stevens WA clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical 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:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While Lake Stevens WA medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Washington law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses and Certification
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Lake Stevens WA employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Lake Stevens WA employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to go to 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 added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in regional Washington healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Lake Stevens WA is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Lake Stevens WA or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating Washington programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Lake Stevens WA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Lake Stevens WA area medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Lake Stevens WA area schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Washington medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Lake Stevens WA healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Lake Stevens WA area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college in the Lake Stevens WA area to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Lake Stevens WA, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant School in Lake Stevens WA
It’s essential 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 goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Lake Stevens WA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask applicants is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare some approaches about how you want to respond to them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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