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What makes medical assisting an attractive occupation? Have you ever browsed through medical assistant programs to get an insight of what you can learn with this kind of training?
Employment opportunities for medical assistant jobs are rising. They’re a necessary part of the medical team, especially in physician’s clinics or other health practitioners like podiatrists, chiropractors and optometrists.
A medical assistant provides support for the health care professional performing both administrative and clinical functions. The smaller the workplace, the broader your responsibilities and the more well-rounded you become as an allied health worker.
What Training Will You Need
Many medical assistants have found jobs meeting just the minimum requirement: a high school diploma. Some have a little office work experience, others volunteer experience in a medical setting. But generally, they learned everything on the job. Their employers invested in them, training them as they went along or eventually sent them to any accredited medical assisting schools to learn the basics or to upgrade their skills later.
But the health care system today is a bit more complex as it serves more patients and with insurance playing a big part in the process. So many employers now lean towards workers with formal training and some medical background and even give preference to those holding certifications as proof of their competence.
Formal medical assistant training is either through a diploma or certificate program, which can be completed between nine to 12 months; or you can choose to prepare more extensively and take up a medical assisting associate degree.
Medical assistant programs are numerous, and whichever you eventually decide on the main criteria should be its accreditation either with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. There are 700 accredited medical assistant programs as of 2009, both online and traditional.
What Courses Are Included In Medical Assistant Programs
So what can you expect from a medical assistant program? As previously mentioned, your job is divided into two categories: clerical/administrative and clinical. If you worked in a bigger medical facility, there may be specific tasks assigned to you. But often in smaller workplaces like doctor’s clinics, you will have to fill in both roles. Necessarily, your training is two-pronged to meet this requirement.
The coursework for administrative skills will include basic office procedures, keyboarding and computer operations, English composition and communication, medical coding and insurance processing, record-keeping, and medical transcription. These may vary depending on the school or program you are pursuing. If you plan on becoming a medical office assistant, you’ll go through every one of these courses.
The clinical portion includes subjects on anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, endocrinology, clinical laboratory procedures, first aid and basic patient care. Some advance medical assistant programs may offer radiology, phlebotomy or venipuncture and ECG operations that will also lead to additional medical assistant certification.
The curriculum will vary depending on the kind of program you choose to pursue. With a diploma or certificate program, you only have at most 12 months to complete the course and this will – as per state requirements – include instructional and laboratory classes plus externship.
The didactics make up about 60 to 70% of the program, but the clinicals are just as important in order to put theory into practice and become a confident worker. Medical assistant schools in Michigan may require more hours than in NYC or CT, so you must first check on these before enrolling.
Medical assistant programs with advance courses may mean more investment, but in the end these additional skills and certification will give you an added advantage when seeking employment, it could also lead to a higher salary. Presently, the average medical assistant salary ranges from $22,000 to $31,000 and the disparity is largely due to education.
Now that you have a heads up on what to expect from medical assistant programs, you can make that all important decision whether this is a career you will want to pursue or not.
Medical assistant schools in NYC include Allen School with campuses in Brooklyn and Queens, ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology in Brooklyn and Anthem Institute in Manhattan. Allen School claims to be New York’s no. 1 medical career training center and offers only medical assistant and nursing assistant programs. Its fast-track medical assistant program can be completed in half the time of other schools with the same training and it makes use of state-of-the-art facilities to keep in tune with the advances in the field. Aside from basic medical assisting skills, it incorporates phlebotomy and EKG training. Graduates qualify to sit for the certification exam. ASA Institute offers an Associate of Occupational Studies degree for medical assisting that runs for four semesters equivalent to 63 credit hours. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs Anthem Institute provides a diploma program for its medical assisting training. It is a 43 week program providing a total of 905 clock hours.
Campus Based Medical Assisting Schools in New York City
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With the economic situation such as it is, people are looking for jobs that have a bit of job security, or for jobs for which there tend to be a lot of positions available so that it is less likely they will end up without a job for any length of time. One job that fits these requirements is that of a medical assistant. Depending on how soon you want to get started working in the field, there are a number of different options available for medical assistant training programs.
How To Choose A Medical Assistant Training Program
When choosing a medical assistant training program, you want to be sure that it is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. There are a total of 569 accredited programs at this time, including programs in 47 different states. For those without an accredited program located near them, there are also three accredited online programs (located at Kaplan University in Davenport, IA; Spencerian College in Louisville, KY; and Mountain State University in Beckley, WV) so everyone has a program available to them.
For those who want to get started quickly in their new career field, there are 198 diploma programs and 167 certificate programs available. These medical assistant training programs usually last about one year, so they are among the shortest programs available. However, you will get more experience and have a better foundation for your career (and possibly more job opportunities) if you stick it out and attend one of the longer training programs.
There are 265 associates degree programs that are accredited. These programs are usually about two years long, and you leave with a college degree which could give you more options in the job market and possibly more pay.
Medical Assistant Requirements
Any medical assistant training program will require you to have at least a high school degree. Most programs include at least some time spent working in a medical office as an internship during your course of study so that you can get a better idea of what the job will be like and so you can get some practice performing the basic skills required of a person with this position. It is a really good idea to make sure that whichever program you choose includes some on the job training such as this because it is very useful to have. Once you have completed your training, it is also advisable to get certified by the American Association of Medical Assistants or one of the other organizations which provides this service as it will make it easier to find jobs.
What are the challenges in becoming a certified medical assistant? There are always a lot of concerns attached to choosing a career, so it’s important to do the right amount of research beforehand to avoid regretting your decision later on.
You need to know things like what types of schools you can get into, what the certified medical assistant job description consists of and how much a CMA makes. It’s also important to assess your personal strengths and weaknesses to ensure this is the right type of work for you so you can save time and money by not entering the wrong field. Learn everything you need to know to give yourself peace of mind and confidence to move forward with your plans.
How Can I Be Sure this Career is Right for me?
Working as a certified medical administrative assistant is not for everyone, because it will pull you in many different directions throughout the course of your day. You will be working long hours under the supervision of a physician, and be required to take on physical and emotional challenges, like helping patients and providing comfort and support.
You will need to be patient, have good communication skills and be able to handle all sorts of people and conditions. If you are capable of multitasking and enjoy a diversity of tasks in a high paced environment, then it might be suitable for you and be worth learning more about.
Is Starting My Medical Career as a Certified Medical Assistant Worth it?
Within the field of nursing, there are many levels you can reach, but they mostly require time consuming and expensive training. Instead starting out as a certified medical assistant could be the best idea for you because with less than a year of training, you can begin a career in entry level nursing, but then have the opportunity to get hands on work experience to decide if it’s worth it for you to pursue training to move up the ranks.
A CMA is known as the heartbeat of a hospital, with your hands in such a wide variety of duties that you will feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and the exposure and practice you get in this role will only better prepare you for any advancement you may consider in the future, so if you want to join nursing, it is the best place to start.
What Kind of Schools Offer the Best Programs?
How to become a certified medical assistant is the first piece of information you need to find. The best thing about working in this position is that formal training beyond having a high school diploma is not required in every state, however, although there is always a demand for medical professionals, competition is still high for the existing medical assistant jobs, so having at least a 1 year certificate behind you is becoming the norm.
Community colleges, vocational schools and even online schools offer 1 year certificate courses ranging around $2500-$4000 or 2 year associate’s degrees that will average around $5000. You will get training in physiology, anatomy, medical vocabulary, recordkeeping, accounting, lab techniques, administering medications and diagnostic procedures.
There are about 350 medical assistant programs across the country that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which is an advantage since they will most likely include an internship, giving you the clinical experience you need. If you don’t have an internship offered, you should try to obtain hospital volunteer work to get the hands-on exposure you need.
What Will I Be Expected to Do on the Job?
The job description of a certified medical assistant can cross many areas. You will have both administrative duties and practical ones, ranging from updating patient charts, taking vital signs, educating patients, preparing them for treatments, and helping doctors conduct exams.
Furthermore, you will be responsible for taking samples for lab work, sterilizing equipment, and depending on the requirements in each state, you could also take on additional duties like administering medication, instructing patients on proper diets, taking blood samples and suturing. There is a great range of tasks to handle, which is why the right training and amount of clinical practice beforehand is essential in easing you into the work.
Is Certification Necessary or Can I Work Without it?
Nationally registered medical assistant schools will make you eligible to sit your national certified medical assistant exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or Association of Medical Technologists (AMT), but certification is not required to work in this position. Non certified medical assistants can find work, but they will not get the same opportunities as certified workers.
Having passed your licensing exam proves your capabilities and highlights your training and competence on the job, and it can boost your resume by opening more doors for you as well as giving you a higher medical assistant salary capacity, with an average range of about $25,000.
Taking the national exam will cost about $170-250, and there is also the opportunity to get a specialized certification in areas like podiatry or optometry. You will need to go through certificate verification every 5 years in order to renew it.
How Can I Be Sure to Pass the Licensing Exam?
In order to ensure success on your national exam, you should prepare in advance by take sample exam questions online. The American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) website offers practice tests that take you through the same format and content that you will experience on your actual test.
The website offers this service for free and consists of 50 anatomy and physiology questions as well as a medical terminology section. Additionally, you can find many textbooks that you can buy that will contain similar style exam questions so that come exam time, you feel calm and prepared.
Is Becoming an RMA the same as a CMA?
An RMA is actually a registered medical assistant, a certification offered by the AMT (American Medical Technologists), accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, and although the job duties are essentially the same as for a CMA, it doesn’t certify you to do the work; it simply registers you in the field.
Also, although in most states both RMAs and CMAs are equally accepted, in some places like Southern California, only CMA qualifications are accepted. Be sure to look into the demands of the state you choose to work in to ensure you have the proper medical assistant training.
What Kind of Work Environment Can I Expect?
Of course hospitals offer an array of jobs for CMAs but the majority of work can be found in private offices and clinics. The environment will be very fast paced and can be hectic, so you need to be prepared for anything to be thrown at you, but the pace can be exhilarating and will never be dull or tedious.
A typical full time week is about 40 hours, but part time and evening shifts are also available for those who need more flexibility, or if you decide to keep studying while working. Your work space will always be clean and bright, but be prepared to handle stressful situations, be on the move and keep a friendly face to handle anyone who crosses your path. With this knowledge in advance, your launch into being a certified medical assistant will be painless.