How to Select a Medical Assistant School near Palos Heights Illinois
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Palos Heights IL, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Palos Heights IL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Illinois law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Education
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Palos Heights IL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals 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 option for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Palos Heights IL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Palos Heights IL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Palos Heights IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Palos Heights IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose 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 just 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 avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Palos Heights IL area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Palos Heights healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Palos Heights IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Palos Heights IL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Palos Heights Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Palos Heights IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Palos Heights, Illinois
According to the 2010 census, Palos Heights has a total area of 3.878 square miles (10.04 km2), of which 3.78 square miles (9.79 km2) (or 97.47%) is land and 0.098 square miles (0.25 km2) (or 2.53%) is water.
As of the 2000 census, there were 11,561 people, 4,123 households, and 3,133 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,978.6 people per square mile (1,150.1/km²). There were 4,268 housing units at an average density of 1,129.0 per square mile (435.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.39% White, 0.44% African American, 0.09% Native American, 2.06% Asian, 0.25% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.43% of the population.
There were 4,123 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.0% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.0% were non-families. 22.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 2.98.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College Palos Heights IL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re planning 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 appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant School Time. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Palos Heights IL.
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