How to Pick a Medical Assistant School Program near Crystal Lake Illinois
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Crystal Lake IL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 factors also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Crystal Lake IL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Crystal Lake IL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical 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 a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Crystal Lake IL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Crystal Lake IL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Crystal Lake IL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program 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 agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Crystal Lake IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining 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, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Crystal Lake IL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Crystal Lake medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Crystal Lake IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Crystal Lake IL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Crystal Lake Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Crystal Lake IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Crystal Lake, Illinois
Crystal Lake is a city in McHenry County in the U.S. state of Illinois. Named after a lake 1.6 miles (2.6 km) southwest of the city's downtown, Crystal Lake is 45 miles northwest of Chicago. The population was 40,743 in 2010. Crystal Lake is the largest city in McHenry County, part of the Chicago metropolitan area.
The City of Crystal Lake traces its origin to two separate communities which were established in the 1800s. Those communities were generally known as Nunda and Crystal Lake. In 1835, Ziba S. Beardsley had come to the shores of the lake and commented that the "waters were as clear as crystal", thereby giving the lake its name. Ziba Beardsley continued south to Naperville. In February 1836, the first white settlers, Beman and Polly Crandall and six of their ten children, came from New York State traveling to Crystal Lake in a covered wagon. Their original cabin was built in the vicinity of today's intersection of Virginia Street and Van Buren Street. Four of the Crandall children were born there. Najah Beardsley's family was the second to settle in the area; his grandson, William Beardsley, was the first white child born on the Crystal Lake prairie, on May 7, 1837.
The town was first known as Crystal Ville. It was changed to Crystal Lake sometime before 1840. The area known today as downtown Crystal Lake was first called Dearborn and later, Nunda, from an area in New York where many settlers originated. The village of Dearborn was founded in the 1850s after an extension of railroads through the area. The first train station was built in 1856, although it was pre-fabricated and shipped from Chicago on a flatcar. At that time, the main business district for the village of Crystal Lake was located on Virginia Street, about one mile (1.6 km) southwest of the railroad station. The railroad served to connect both the people and industries of Crystal Lake and Dearborn to Chicago and the rest of the country. Dearborn grew quickly due to this new rail connection.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program Crystal Lake IL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective 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 get the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Curriculum. 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Crystal Lake IL.
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