How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Weirton West Virginia
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Weirton WV, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish 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 need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Weirton WV clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under West Virginia law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Weirton WV health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Weirton WV area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the right choice 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Weirton WV medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Weirton WV with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Weirton WV employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Weirton WV area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Weirton health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Weirton WV area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it’s important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Weirton WV, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Weirton West Virginia?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Weirton WV area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Weirton, West Virginia
Weirton (pron. WEER-ton) is a city in Brooke and Hancock counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located primarily in Hancock County, the city lies in the northern portions of the state's Northern Panhandle region. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 19,746. Weirton is a principal city of the Weirton–Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2010 population of 124,454 residents. Additionally, Weirton is part of Greater Pittsburgh, the 20th largest combined statistical area in the United States with a 2016 estimated population of 2,635,228.
The small village called Holliday's Cove lanes — which is now most of downtown Weirton — was founded in 1793. (It eventually lost the apostrophe.) In 1909, Ernest T. Weir arrived from neighboring Pittsburgh and built a steel mill later known as Weirton Steel Corporation just north of Holliday's Cove. An unincorporated settlement called Weirton grew up around the mill that, by 1940, was said to be the largest unincorporated city in the United States. By then Hollidays Cove and two other outlying areas, Weirton Heights and Marland Heights, which as their names suggest were on hilltops or ridges surrounding the "Weir–Cove" area, had also incorporated.
Hollidays Cove Fort was a Revolutionary War fortification constructed in 1774 by soldiers from Ft. Pitt. It was located in what is now downtown Weirton, along Harmons Creek (named for Harmon Greathouse), about three miles from its mouth on the Ohio River. It was commanded by Colonel Andrew Van Swearingen (1741–1793) and later by his son-in-law, Captain Samuel Brady (1756–1795), the famous leader of Brady's Rangers. In 1779, over 28 militia were garrisoned at Hollidays Cove. Two years earlier, Colonel Van Swearingen led a dozen soldiers by longboat down the Ohio to help rescue the inhabitants of Ft. Henry in Wheeling in a siege by the British and Indian tribes in 1777. That mission was memorialized in a WPA-era mural painted on the wall of the Cove Post Office by Charles S. Chapman (1879–1962). The mural features Col. John Bilderback, who later gained infamy as the leader of the massacre of the Moravian Indians in Gnadenhutten in 1782.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant College Weirton WV
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, 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 Medical Assistant Certification Online. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Weirton WV.
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