How to Pick a Medical Assistant School Program near Houlton Maine
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Houlton ME, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Houlton ME hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Maine 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Houlton ME health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might 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 to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Houlton ME area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Houlton ME medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Houlton ME with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Houlton ME employers will not hire 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 develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, 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 shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Houlton ME area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Houlton health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Houlton ME area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the college you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Houlton ME, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Houlton Maine?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Houlton ME area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Houlton is a town in Aroostook County, Maine, on the Canada–US border, located at 46°07′32″N 67°50′23″W / 46.1256°N 67.8398°W / 46.1256; -67.8398. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 6,123. It is perhaps best known as being at the northern terminus of Interstate 95 and for being the birthplace of Samantha Smith, a goodwill ambassador as a child during the Cold War. The town hosts the annual Houlton Agricultural Fair.
Houlton is the county seat for Aroostook County, and as such its nickname is the "Shire Town." The Houlton High School sports teams are named "The Shiretowners." The Meduxnekeag River flows through the heart of the town, and the border with the Canadian province of New Brunswick is 3 mi (4.8 km) east of the town's center. Houlton was the home of Ricker College which closed in 1978.
The area was occupied for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. In historic times, these were the Algonquian-speaking Maliseet people. When Maine was part of Massachusetts, parcels of land were dealt out to schools and colleges. The area that was to become Houlton was deeded to the Academy of New Salem, Massachusetts. Thirteen men from New Salem bought the land from the Academey though only three settled there.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program Houlton ME
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right 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 right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools 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, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as 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 Top Medical Assistant Programs. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Houlton ME.
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