How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training School near Lake Forest Illinois
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lake Forest IL, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Lake Forest IL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Illinois law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Programs
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Lake Forest 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 two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice 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 costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Lake Forest IL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Lake Forest IL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, 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 previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Lake Forest IL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Lake Forest IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Lake Forest IL area health care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Lake Forest healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Lake Forest IL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Lake Forest IL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Lake Forest Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Lake Forest IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Lake Forest, Illinois
Lake Forest is a city located in Lake County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 19,375. The city is along the shore of Lake Michigan, and is a part of the Chicago metropolitan area and the North Shore.
Lake Forest was founded together with Lake Forest College; it was laid out as a town in 1857, and was a stop for travelers making their way south to Chicago. The Lake Forest City Hall, designed by Charles Sumner Frost, was completed in 1898. It originally housed the fire department, the Lake Forest Library, and city offices. The city used restrictive covenants to bar "African-Americans and Jews from purchasing property in Lake Forest", a practice that "continued at least until the 1960s", but which seems to have been "greatly diminished" by the 1990s.
According to the 2010 census, Lake Forest has a total area of 17.246 square miles (44.67 km2), of which 17.18 square miles (44.50 km2) (or 99.62%) is land and 0.066 square miles (0.17 km2) (or 0.38%) is water.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Lake Forest IL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Tech. But regardless 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Lake Forest IL.
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