Being A Medical Assistant Oak Park IL

How to Select a Medical Assistant Training School near Oak Park Illinois

Oak Park IL medical assistant checking pulseNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oak Park IL, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 factors as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

medical assistant with Oak Park IL nursing home patientThe responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Oak Park IL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Illinois law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Oak Park 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 essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 Courses

woman attending medical assistant school online in Oak Park ILThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Oak Park IL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Oak Park IL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Questions to ask Oak Park IL medical assistant programsBefore you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Oak Park IL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Oak Park IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Oak Park IL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Oak Park medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Oak Park IL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s important that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oak Park IL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Oak Park Illinois?

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

Oak Park, Illinois

Oak Park is a village adjacent to the West Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is the 29th largest municipality in Illinois as measured by population in the 2010 U.S. census.[3] As of the 2010 United States Census the village had a population of 51,878.[4]

Oak Park was settled beginning in the 1830s, with rapid growth later in the 19th century and early 20th century. It incorporated in 1902, breaking off from Cicero. Development was spurred by railroads and street cars connecting the village to jobs in Chicago. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife settled here in 1889. Population peaked at 66,015 in 1940. Smaller families led to falling population in the same number of homes and apartments. In the 1960s, Oak Park faced the challenge of racial integration, devising many strategies to integrate rather than resegregate the village. Oak Park includes three historic districts for the historic homes: Ridgeland, Frank Lloyd Wright and Seward Gunderson, reflecting the focus on historic preservation.

In 1835, Joseph Kettlestrings, an immigrant from England, purchased 172 acres (70 ha)[5] of land just west of Chicago for a farm and their home. Once their children were born, they moved to Chicago for the schools in 1843, and moved back again in 1855 to build a more substantial home a bit east on their quarter section of land. More farmers and settlers had entered the area. Their land was called by several names locally, including Oak Ridge. When the first post office was set up, it could not use the name Oak Ridge as another post office was using that name in Illinois, so the post office chose Oak Park, and that name became the name for the settlement as it grew, and for the town when it incorporated in 1902.[5]

Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Oak Park IL

Oak Park IL medical assistant studentIt’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as 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 Being A Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Oak Park IL.

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