How to Select a Medical Assistant School Program near Washington District of Columbia
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Washington DC, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Washington DC hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 tasked with 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 possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under District of Columbia law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Washington DC health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Washington DC area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Washington DC medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Washington DC with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Washington DC employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Washington DC area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Washington medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Washington DC area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s important that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Washington DC, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Washington District of Columbia?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Washington DC area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. Washington is the principal city of the Washington metropolitan area, which has a population of 6,131,977. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, the city is an important world political capital. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017[update], making it the 20th largest American city by population. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant School Washington DC
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right 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 individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Accredited Schools For Medical Assistant. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Washington DC.
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