How to Pick a Medical Assistant School near Park Forest Illinois
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Park Forest IL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Park Forest IL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Illinois law, some opt 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 Courses
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Park Forest IL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Park Forest IL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Park Forest IL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want 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 start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Park Forest IL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some 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 several good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Park Forest IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out 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. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Park Forest IL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Park Forest healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Park 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Park Forest IL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Park Forest Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Park Forest IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Park Forest, Illinois
Park Forest is a village located south of Chicago in Cook and Will counties, Illinois, United States. As of the 2010 census, the village had a population of 21,975. Park Forest is bordered by Olympia Fields to the north, Chicago Heights to the east, University Park to the south (formerly Park Forest South), and Richton Park and Matteson to the west.
Developers Nathan Manilow, Carroll F. Sweet and Philip M. Klutznick held a press conference in the Palmer House in Chicago on October 28, 1946, to announce the planned development of a new self-governing community in Chicago's south suburbs. This project, soon to be referred to as Park Forest, was to be developed by American Community Builders (ACB). The village of Park Forest was partly designed by town planner Elbert Peets in the tradition of planned communities around the nation to provide housing for veterans returning from World War II.
Studs Terkel, in his oral history of World War II, The Good War, says Park Forest and other such middle-class suburbs grew out of the new prosperity after the war. First he quotes an unnamed GI, "The war changed our whole idea of how we wanted to live when we came back. We set our sights pretty high. . . . I am now what you'd call middle class." Terkel goes on: "The suburb, until [about 1946], had been the exclusive domain of the 'upper class.' It was where the rich lived. The rest of us were neighborhood folk. At war's end, a new kind of suburb came into being. . . . Thanks to the GI bill, two new names were added to American folksay: Levittown and Park Forest.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant School Park Forest IL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, 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 What Can A Certified Medical Assistant Do. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Park Forest IL.
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