How to Select a Medical Assistant Training Program near Palm Harbor Florida
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Palm Harbor FL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Palm Harbor FL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Florida law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Palm Harbor FL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Palm Harbor FL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Palm Harbor FL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly 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 be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Palm Harbor FL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Palm Harbor FL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges 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 programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Palm Harbor FL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Palm Harbor medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that very first job may be a challenging 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 in the Palm Harbor FL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Palm Harbor FL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Palm Harbor Florida?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Palm Harbor FL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Palm Harbor, Florida
Palm Harbor is located 35 km north of downtown St. Petersburg and west of Tampa. It is a largely residential community with several concentrations of commerce. Downtown Palm Harbor, north of Tampa Road between U.S. Highway 19 Alternate and Omaha Street hosts many small shops and eateries along with a handful of historic buildings.U.S. Highway 19, a mile or two east of downtown, offers access to higher concentrations of commerce, with an array of national chain restaurants and retailers. One entrance to Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, a nationally regarded golf course is found on U.S. 19.
The historic downtown district of Palm Harbor, at Florida Avenue and Alt. US 19 and CR 1, has numerous festivals and craft fairs. Old Palm Harbor Main Streets, Inc., a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, hosts their signature event the first Friday of every month. "Palm Harbor's First Friday Celebrations" are a popular community event for youngsters and adults alike. There are rides and games for the children, with opportunities to dine on food from the many local restaurants, enjoy local artists and crafters displaying and selling their wares. Annually, the first Sunday in October marks when the "Taste of Palm Harbor" festival is held. The event is presented by the Palm Harbor Junior Women's Club with the proceeds benefiting their "Making a Difference" grants & scholarships program. The Taste of Palm Harbor traditionally offers live music and the tasting of samples from over 20 local restaurants, many of which make seafood their speciality.
Palm Harbor is an unincorporated part of Pinellas County. HB 183 - Town of Palm Harbor/Pinellas County, from 2009, was the most recent local bill that would have scheduled a referendum allowing Palm Harbor voters the opportunity to decide if they want to incorporate, but the bill died in committee. Pinellas County legislators had voted on January 22, 2009, to support a bill allowing voters in Palm Harbor to decide if they wanted their unincorporated community to become the county's 25th city. It passed over the objections of Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who said she was appearing in both her official capacity and as a Palm Harbor resident. The Legislature would have needed to first conduct a feasibility study to make sure cityhood made fiscal sense.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant College Palm Harbor FL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is 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 get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, 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 Medical Assistant Online. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Palm Harbor FL.
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