How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School near Freeburg Illinois
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Freeburg IL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Freeburg IL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Freeburg IL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Freeburg IL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform 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 graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Freeburg IL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Freeburg IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Freeburg IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. 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 example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Freeburg IL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Freeburg health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Freeburg IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Freeburg IL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Freeburg Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Freeburg IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Freeburg lies in the fertile and rolling southern Illinois plains between the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers. It was platted in 1836 as the town of Urbana by immigrants to this area from Virginia around 1800. The first European settlers of Freeburg were of English and Irish ancestry.
There were five migratory Indian tribes that crisscrossed each other in Illinois; the Peorias, Cahokias, Kaskaskias, Tamaroas, and Michiganics. It is said that Turkey Hill north of town was a popular Indian campground that also attracted many early settlers because of the view it provided of the surrounding countryside. The last Indian tribes left this area by 1820.
The big German migrations to this area started around 1830 and continued quite strong for the rest of the century. Obviously, the abundance of coal, the availability of cheap fertile farm land, as well as the proximity to the frontier city of St. Louis, only 20 miles to the northwest, are what attracted settlers to Freeburg.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Freeburg IL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Certification Online. 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Freeburg IL.
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