How to Pick a Medical Assistant School near Lake Bluff Illinois
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Bluff IL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative 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 pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Lake Bluff IL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Lake Bluff IL health care employers prefer 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 quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Lake Bluff IL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Lake Bluff IL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Lake Bluff IL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Lake Bluff IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn 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 assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Lake Bluff IL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Lake Bluff healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Lake Bluff IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Lake Bluff IL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Lake Bluff Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Lake Bluff IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Lake Bluff, Illinois
Lake Bluff is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States. It is located on the North Shore of Lake Michigan, and is part of the Chicago metropolitan area. As of 2015, the population was 7,469.
The first settler family to claim land within the area now part of Lake Bluff arrived in 1836. They claimed 100 acres of land extending from the lake west to the Green Bay Trail. In 1849, a few residents left to seek their fortune in the California gold rush. In 1837, William and Mary Dwyer claimed the land just north of the former Central School. They opened and operated a stage coach stop and tavern along the Green Bay Trail. Some of the other early settlers were Henry and Angeline Ostrander, James Cole and William Whitnell.
In 1855, the first railroad through Lake County was completed, running from Chicago through the county line. Henry Ostrander owned the land where the depot was to be placed, and he agreed to donate the site if the depot were called "Rockland." Therefore, this area, known previously as the Dwyer Settlement and Oak Hill, became Rockland, the only stop between Highland Park and Waukegan. Rockland had a post office and general store on Mawman Avenue with a small school and church located west of the tracks near Green Bay Road.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College Lake Bluff IL
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Certify Medical Assistant. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Lake Bluff IL.
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