How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Training Program near Mattoon Illinois
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mattoon 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 ultimately pick the right one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Mattoon IL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Mattoon IL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two 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 a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible 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, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Mattoon IL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Mattoon IL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Mattoon IL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Mattoon IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however 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 finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Mattoon IL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Mattoon health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Mattoon IL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Mattoon IL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Mattoon Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Mattoon IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
One of the main factors determining the settlement of Mattoon and Coles County in general was the topography. Coles County straddled a timberline in the southern half and prairie in the north. The forested areas were primarily fed by two major rivers: the Embarras River in the east and the Kaskaskia in the west. The prairie, known as the "Grand Prairie", was generally wet and swampy. An early historian described the geography:
"Away from the timber to the north, the face of the country is generally quite level, broken only by long undulations. It is almost entirely prairie land in this part, and was allowed to remain uncultivated until after the opening of the railroads. It was largely used for pasturage during this period, and often presented signs of great animation as the herds of cattle, under the care of their drovers, moved about over its grassy, slightly undulating surface."
Groves could be found scattered throughout the area. Early settlers to the area started homesteads in the timberline, which provided building materials and fuel. Since the vast majority of early settlers came from wooded areas of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee (by way of the Ohio and Wabash River valleys), the forests also provided a sense of familiarity.
Select the Best Medical Assistant Program Mattoon IL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged 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 How Long Does It Take To Be A Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mattoon IL.
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