How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program near Lincoln Illinois
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Lincoln IL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective 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, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Lincoln IL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Illinois law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Lincoln IL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element 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.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Lincoln IL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed 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 requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Lincoln IL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably 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 exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Lincoln IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Lincoln IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Lincoln IL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Lincoln medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Lincoln IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it’s important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Lincoln IL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Lincoln Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Lincoln IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Lincoln is a city in Logan County, Illinois, United States. It is the only town in the United States that was named for and by Abraham Lincoln before he became president; he practiced law there from 1847 to 1859. First settled in the 1830s, Lincoln is home to three colleges and two prisons. The three colleges are Lincoln College, Lincoln Christian University, and Heartland Community College. It is also the home of the world's largest covered wagon.
The town was officially named on August 27, 1853, in an unusual ceremony. Abraham Lincoln, having assisted with the platting of the town and working as counsel for the newly laid railroad which led to its founding, was asked to participate in a naming ceremony for the town. On this date, the first sale of lots took place in the new town. Ninety were sold at prices ranging from $40 to $150. According to tradition Lincoln was present. At noon he purchased two watermelons and carried one under each arm to public square. There he invited Latham, Hickox, and Gillette, proprietors, to join him, saying, "Now we'll christen the new town.", squeezing watermelon juice out on the ground. Legend has it that when it had been proposed to him that the town be named for him, he had advised against it, saying that in his experience, "Nothing bearing the name of Lincoln ever amounted to much." The town of Lincoln was the first city named after Abraham Lincoln, while he was a lawyer and before he was President of the United States.
Lincoln College (chartered Lincoln University), a private four-year liberal arts college, was founded in early 1865 and granted 2 year degrees until 1929. News of the establishment and name of the school was communicated to President Lincoln shortly before his death, making Lincoln the only college to be named after Lincoln while he was living. The College has an excellent collection of Abraham Lincoln–related documents and artifacts, housed in a museum which is open to the general public.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Lincoln IL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info 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 discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Programs. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Lincoln IL.
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