How to Choose a Medical Assistant School Program near Chicago Ridge Illinois
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chicago Ridge IL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Chicago Ridge IL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based 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 responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Illinois law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Chicago Ridge IL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Chicago Ridge 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 receiving your education might 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Chicago Ridge IL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Chicago Ridge IL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you select 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 plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Chicago Ridge IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Chicago Ridge IL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Chicago Ridge healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Chicago Ridge IL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chicago Ridge IL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Chicago Ridge Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Chicago Ridge IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Chicago Ridge, Illinois
Incorporated on October 17, 1914, the village has an area of approximately 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2) and is located in the southwestern portion of Cook County, Illinois, about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of downtown Chicago.
The path of Stony Creek arcs through the village. It is not only an old creek but also the remnants of a feeder canal for the Illinois & Michigan Canal that reached from the Little Calumet River westward through the Saganash-kee Slough. Although the work on the feeder canal brought some settlers in the 1840s, German and Dutch farmers arrived after the 1850s.
Settlement increased with the coming of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad in 1882. Later, the Wabash would be crossed in the middle of Chicago Ridge by the Chicago and Calumet Terminal Railway, which also established rail yards in the village.
Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant School Chicago Ridge IL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon 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 a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Technician. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Chicago Ridge IL.
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