Best Medical Assistant Programs Highwood IL

How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training School near Highwood Illinois

Highwood IL medical assistant checking pulseOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Highwood IL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

medical assistant with Highwood IL nursing home patientThe responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Highwood IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties 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 doctors
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Highwood IL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 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 generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

woman attending medical assistant school online in Highwood ILThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Highwood IL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Highwood IL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take 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, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Questions to ask Highwood IL medical assistant programsBefore you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Highwood IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Highwood IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Highwood IL area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Highwood healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Highwood IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive 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 sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Highwood IL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will 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 responsibilities.

Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Highwood Illinois?

If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Highwood IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.

Highwood, Illinois

Originally, the land was owned by the Potawatomi until the 1833 when it was ceded to the United States through the Treaty of Chicago.[5] The first non-Native American settled in the town in 1846. In 1851 Highwood became the headquarter location of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, which ran parallel to the Chicago and North Western Railway's and is now know today as Metra's Union Pacific/North line. Thomas Curley suggested the name High Woods because the land was the highest ground between Chicago and Milwaukee and was covered with trees.

In 1886 civil and labor unrest in Chicago eventually led to the Haymarket Riot. Chicago businessmen felt that having a military presence near the city would help alleviate tensions within the city and on November 8, 1887 purchased Camp Highwood. This land would come to host members of the Sixth Infantry Regiment. On February 27, 1888 Camp Highwood was officially named Fort Sheridan in honor of General Philip Sheridan for his ability to maintain order after the Chicago Fire of 1871.

Highwood provided several business and employment opportunities and following the fire, many of those who lost their home and a wave of immigrants settled into the town. Highwood can also give credit to much of their economic success to the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway. However, with increased transportation it also caused a sudden rise in gambling dens and illegal "blind-pig" taverns which catered to off duty soldiers. This eventually provoked federal authorities to enact the "Highwood Quadrangle" which prohibited the sale of liquor within 1 1/8th miles of the army base.

Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant School Highwood IL

Highwood IL medical assistant studentIt’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example 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 Best Medical Assistant Programs. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can 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 Highwood IL.

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