How to Choose a Medical Assistant School Program near West des Moines Iowa
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near West des Moines IA, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 important factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the West des Moines IA hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size 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 physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Iowa law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of West des Moines IA health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in West des Moines IA area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential West des Moines IA medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to West des Moines IA with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective West des Moines IA employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with West des Moines IA area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the West des Moines medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the West des Moines IA area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator 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 provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near West des Moines IA, verify that those times are available. You may 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. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near West des Moines Iowa?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the West des Moines IA area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
West Des Moines, Iowa
West Des Moines is a city in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 56,609. West Des Moines is the second-largest city in the Des Moines metropolitan area and the tenth-largest city in Iowa. It ranked 94th in Money magazine's list of the "100 Best Places to Live and Launch" in 2008, 77th and 57th on the 100 Best Places to Live in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and 18th on the Hipster Cities of 2015.
The West Des Moines area used to be home to the Sac and Fox tribes. Near the stroke of midnight on October 11, 1845 a gunshot was fired by a cattle farmer, James Cunningham Jordan (1813–1893) and the tribes left. His residence, the Jordan House, has been restored and is now home to the West Des Moines Historical Society. In West Des Moines' early years, the town was a trading and shipping junction. West Des Moines incorporated as the city of Valley Junction on October 9, 1893.
In its early days Valley Junction was home to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad's switching facilities and repair shops due to its location at the junction of several railroad lines. The Rock Island's facilities moved out of Valley Junction and back into Des Moines in 1936.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training West des Moines IA
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Being A Medical Assistant. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in West des Moines IA.
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