How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Elmhurst Illinois
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Elmhurst IL, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Elmhurst IL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Elmhurst IL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to 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 training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Elmhurst IL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Elmhurst IL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Elmhurst IL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few 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 make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Elmhurst IL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
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. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast 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 ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Elmhurst IL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Elmhurst health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Elmhurst IL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates 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 attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Elmhurst IL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Elmhurst Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Elmhurst IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Elmhurst is a city mostly in DuPage County and overlapping into Cook County in the U.S. state of Illinois, and a western suburb of Chicago. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 44,121.
Members of the Potawatomi Native American people, who settled along Salt Creek just south of where the city would develop, are the earliest known settlers of the Elmhurst area. Around 1836, European-American immigrants settled on tracts of land along the same creek. At what would become Elmhurst City Centre, a native of Ohio named Gerry Bates established a community on a tract of "treeless land" in 1842.
The following year, Hill Cottage Tavern opened where St. Charles Road and Cottage Hill Avenue presently intersect. In 1845, the community was officially named Cottage Hill when a post office was established. Four years later the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was given right-of-way through Cottage Hill giving farmers easier access to Chicago. The community changed its name to Elmhurst in 1869. In 1871, Elmhurst College was organized and currently has 3,500 undergraduates and about 300 graduate students. Elmhurst was incorporated as a village in 1882, with a population between 723 and 1,050, and legal boundaries of St. Charles Road to North Avenue, and one half mile west and one quarter mile east of York Street. Elmhurst Memorial Hospital was founded in 1926 as the first hospital in DuPage County.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Program Elmhurst IL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Degree Programs. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Elmhurst IL.
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