How to Choose a Medical Assistant School Program near Princeton Illinois
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Princeton IL, it’s time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 also. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Princeton IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Illinois law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Princeton 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 basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who may 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 to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Princeton IL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical 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 idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Princeton IL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Princeton IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee 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 acknowledged 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Princeton IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Princeton IL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Princeton healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Princeton IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton IL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Princeton Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Princeton IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Princeton is part of the Ottawa–Streator Micropolitan Statistical Area. Due to its location where Interstate 80 meets the Amtrak system, as well as its well-preserved main street and historic housing stock, Princeton has become a popular satellite town for Chicago and the Quad Cities.
Bureau County was a New England settlement. The original founders of Princeton consisted entirely of settlers from New England. These people were "Yankees," descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal. When they arrived in what is now Bureau County there was nothing but a virgin forest and wild prairie, the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, fueling the establishment of many schools, as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian. Culturally Bureau County, like much of northern Illinois, would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture for most of its history. During the time of slavery, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad at the home of Owen Lovejoy.
Princeton's former nickname was "The City of Elms" because of the large number of elm trees the city had during the middle of the 20th century. However, an epidemic struck the elm trees of Princeton and killed off almost every elm. The current slogan, "Where Tradition Meets Progress", was adopted in the mid 1960s by a contest among the city's elementary school students. The student who submitted the winning slogan was Maybeth Monroe. (photograph available)
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program Princeton IL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in What Is A Medical Assistant. 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Princeton IL.
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