How to Select a Medical Assistant School near Cascade Maryland
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Cascade MD, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by checking out 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 issues as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges 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 kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Cascade MD hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Maryland law, some prefer 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 Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Cascade MD health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Cascade MD area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Cascade MD medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide 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 procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Cascade MD with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Cascade MD employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Cascade MD area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Cascade medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Cascade MD area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Cascade MD, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Cascade Maryland?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Cascade MD area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,141 people, 440 households, and 315 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 669.9 people per square mile (259.1/km²). There were 479 housing units at an average density of 281.2/sq mi (108.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 69.42% White, 28.18% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.61% of the population.
There were 440 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.8% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 33.7% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.0 males.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program Cascade MD
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Become A Certified Medical Assistant. But irrespective of the type 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cascade MD.
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