How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program near Fairfield Illinois
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fairfield IL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Fairfield IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Illinois law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Fairfield IL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Fairfield IL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform 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 idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Fairfield IL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received 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 sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Fairfield IL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Fairfield IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest 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 receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Fairfield IL area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Fairfield health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Fairfield IL area and find out 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 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 might 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 furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s imperative that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fairfield IL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Fairfield Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Fairfield IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Fairfield is most famous for being the hometown of the "friendly" people, and the Shelton Brothers Gang; notorious bootleggers who fought it out with the Harrisburg, Illinois based Birger Gang to control criminal activities in Southern Illinois. During the first half of the 20th century gang leaders Carl, Earl and Bernie Shelton made Fairfield a household name. Based on testimony of Charlie Birger himself, the Shelton Brothers were convicted for a 1925 unsolved mail carrier robbery of $15,000 and were sentenced to 25 years. They were released a few years later. Birger dominated bootlegging in Southern Illinois until he himself was hanged in Benton for the murder of West City Mayor Joe Adams in 1928. After serving their time, the Shelton brothers built a new criminal empire. Based out of East St Louis, one of the most prosperous cities of its day, they controlled all vice from Peoria and southward.
They met their demise at the hands of the Chicago mob and an insider Charles "Blackie" Harris. A land dispute led to Blackie joining forces with the Mob to kill off members of the Shelton gang. His most notable victim was Carl Shelton, the leader. He was ambushed several miles southeast of Fairfield, shot from his Jeep. Bernie was killed at his Peoria roadhouse. Earl moved to Jacksonville, Florida and became a successful land speculator.
Senator William Borah, the "Lion of Idaho," was born in Fairfield. Fairfield was the hometown of Kenneth Michael Kays, recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Vietnam War, and Country music singer-songwriter Lance Miller. Carroll C. Boggs, Illinois Supreme Court justice was born in Fairfield. Drue Pearce, Alaska state legislator, was born in Fairfield.
Select the Right Medical Assistant School Fairfield IL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged 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 Night School. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fairfield IL.
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