How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program near Freeport Illinois
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Freeport IL, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Freeport IL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Illinois law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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 Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Freeport IL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Freeport IL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Freeport IL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind 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 process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Freeport IL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Freeport IL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive 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 elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Freeport IL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Freeport medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Freeport 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 healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Freeport IL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Freeport Illinois?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Freeport IL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Freeport is the county seat and largest city of Stephenson County, Illinois. The population was 25,638 at the 2010 census, and the mayor of Freeport is Jodi Miller, elected in 2017. Freeport is known for hosting the second Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858, and as "Pretzel City, USA", named after the heritage of its Germanic settlers in the 1850s and the Billerbeck Bakery pretzel company that started as a result of their arrival. Freeport High School's mascot is the Pretzel to honor this unique heritage.
The community was originally called Winneshiek. When it was incorporated, the new municipality took its name from the generosity of Tutty Baker, who was credited with running a "free port" on the Pecatonica River. The name "Winneshiek" was later adopted, and is preserved to this day, by the Freeport Community Theatre Group.
In 1837, Stephenson County was formed and Freeport became its seat of government in 1838. Linked by a stagecoach with Chicago, the community grew rapidly. In 1840, a frame courthouse was erected and the first school was founded. Within two years, Freeport had two newspapers and in 1853, the two were joined by a third which published in German. By then, the community had a population of 2,000.
Pick the Best Medical Assistant Course Freeport IL
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if 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 appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in What Do Medical Assistants Do. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Freeport IL.
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