How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Decatur Georgia
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur GA, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Decatur GA clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Georgia law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Decatur GA health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many 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 option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many 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 any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Decatur GA area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best choice 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 an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Decatur GA medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Decatur GA with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Decatur GA employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools 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 need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Decatur GA area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Decatur medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Decatur GA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur GA, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Decatur Georgia?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Decatur GA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Decatur is a city in, and the county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia that is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. With a population of 20,148 in the 2013 census, the municipality is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple ZIP Codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear the Decatur name. The city is served by three MARTA rail stations. The city is located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta and shares its western border with Atlanta.
Decatur was established at the intersection of two Native American trails: the Sandtown, which led east from the Chattahoochee River at Utoy Creek, and the Shallowford, which follows today's Clairmont Road, and eventually crossed near Roswell. It was named for United States Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur.
During the American Civil War, Decatur became a strategic site in Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. In July 1864, Major-General James McPherson occupied the town to cut off the Confederates' supply line from Augusta. On July 22, during the Battle of Atlanta, Confederate cavalry under Major-General Joseph Wheeler attacked McPherson's supply wagons and the Union troops left to defend the wagons. A historical marker at the old courthouse marks the site of this skirmish.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Decatur GA
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing 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 an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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 type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Decatur GA.
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