How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training Program near Bloomington Illinois
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Bloomington IL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Bloomington IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may 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 options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Bloomington IL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Bloomington IL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Bloomington IL 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) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Bloomington IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Bloomington IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select 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 closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Bloomington IL area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Bloomington health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Bloomington 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts 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 throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Bloomington IL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Bloomington Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Bloomington IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of McLean County, Illinois, United States. It is adjacent to Normal, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area.
The 2010 census showed the city had a population of 76,610, making it the 12th most populated city in Illinois, and the fifth-most populous city in the state outside the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Combined with Normal, the twin cities have a population of roughly 130,000.
Bloomington is located at 40°29′03″N 88°59′37″W. The city is at an elevation of 797 feet (243 m) above sea level. According to the 2010 census, Bloomington has a total area of 27.229 square miles (70.52 km2), of which 27.22 square miles (70.50 km2) (or 99.97%) is land and 0.009 square miles (0.02 km2) (or 0.03%) is water.
Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Bloomington IL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Training. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Bloomington IL.
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