How to Pick a Medical Assistant School near Great Lakes Illinois
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Great Lakes IL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Great Lakes IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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 performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Programs
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Great Lakes IL health care 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 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent 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 choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Great Lakes IL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Great Lakes IL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind 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 begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Great Lakes IL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Great Lakes IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Great Lakes IL area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Great Lakes healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Great Lakes IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Great Lakes IL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy 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 Great Lakes Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Great Lakes IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Naval Station Great Lakes
Naval Station Great Lakes (NAVSTA Great Lakes) is the home of the United States Navy's only boot camp, located near North Chicago, in Lake County, Illinois. Important tenant commands include the Recruit Training Command, Training Support Center and Navy Recruiting District Chicago. Naval Station Great Lakes is the largest military installation in Illinois and the largest training station in the Navy. The base has 1,153 buildings situated on 1,628 acres (6.59 km2) and has 50 miles (80 km) of roadway to provide access to the base's facilities. Within the naval service, it has several different nicknames, including "The Quarterdeck of the Navy", or the more derogatory "Great Mistakes".
One of the landmarks of the area is Building 1, also known as the clocktower building. Completed in 1911, the building is made of red brick, and has a tower over the third floor of the building. The large parade ground in front of the administration building is named Ross Field.
In 1996, RTC Great Lakes became the Navy's only basic training facility. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission of 1993 resulted in the closure of Naval Training Center San Diego, California and Naval Training Center Orlando, Florida, their associated Recruit Training Commands, and the consolidation of US Navy enlisted recruit training to Great Lakes. Approximately 40,000 recruits pass through Recruit Training Command annually with an estimated 7,000 recruits on board the installation at any time. RTC Great Lakes has been active for over 100 years.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program Great Lakes IL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your decision. 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 certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Accredited Medical Assistant Programs. But irrespective of the type 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 begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Great Lakes IL.
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