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Becoming a Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant Programs in PA will give you the training you need to perform administrative duties as well as clinical duties. Most medical assistants gain the knowledge needed to not only file charts, answer phones, schedule appointments, handle billing and insurance claims, but also to work directly with patients by taking their medical history information, preparing patients for exams, assisting doctors in examining patients, giving medications, taking vitals and drawing blood, and many more responsibilities. The exact skills that you will learn through the medical assistant programs in PA will depend entirely on the school you choose to go to and the length of the program that school offers.

How to Choose a Medical Assistant School

There are a huge variety of schools that offer medical assistant programs in PA to choose from. You will want to look at what the medical assistant program at each school has to offer and then narrow your choices down. Some medical assistant programs in PA require two years of schooling while others allow you to finish in a shorter amount of time such as nine months to a year, so you will need to decide how quickly you want to get done with school and begin your career.

Each of the medical assistant programs in PA will also have their own curriculum so it would be wise to research what skills each program will teach you so that you can get the most out of your schooling. The programs that teach the widest variety of skills will probably be more beneficial than the others because they will allow you to have more jobs choices after completing school.

Another thing to consider is the type of degree you will receive upon completion of your medical assistant schooling. The two-year medical assistant programs in PA will allow you to receive an associate’s degree in medical assisting while the shorter one-year or less programs will earn you a certificate of completion. In addition to the type of degree you will receive, you should also find out if the school you are planning to attend is accredited. This is important if you plan to become a certified medical assistant or CMA after graduation. You will only be able to sit for the CMA exam if you graduated from an accredited medical assistant program in PA.

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To find out whether the school you are interested in is accredited or not, you can either call and speak with someone at the school or take a look on the school’s website. Generally, the website will state if the school is accredited and by what organizations it is accredited through.

Why Certification is Important

While there are medical assisting jobs out there for those who are not certified, you will have a much greater chance of landing a job if you have earned the CMA credential. CMA’s generally receive higher wages and are more sought after than non-certified medical assistants. You will have a wider variety of job choices if you are certified as well.

If you choose to become certified, you will need to schedule to take the certification exam through the American Association of Medical Assistants. They only offer the exam about three times each year, so you will want to look into it ahead of time to find out when will be the best time for you to take the exam. If you do become certified, you will have to renew your certification once every five years to maintain your certification status.


Each one of the accredited medical assistant programs in PA should cover the information about certification such as what the requirements are and what steps you will need to take to become certified.

Career Paths for Medical Assistants

Due to the extensive training that medical assistants receive from the medical assistant programs in PA, there really isn’t a limit as to where you can find employment in the health care industry. Medical assistants don’t only work in doctor’s offices despite what many people might believe.

Medical assistants, especially those with the CMA credential, can work in a variety of places such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, outpatient surgical centers, urgent care centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, medical supply businesses, insurance companies, home healthcare agencies, laboratories and pharmaceutical companies. The job opportunities that will be available to you are plentiful and should make it a lot easier to find a job right after graduation and certification. Some medical assistant programs in PA also offer job placement, so that is another option to help you find employment after graduation if your school offers it.

Many medical assistant programs in PA also require their students to participate in a medical assistant externship where you will get hands-on experience working in a healthcare facility as part of your final training. Externships are actually a great way to get your foot in the door early because quite often medical assistants end up getting hired permanently after graduation at the place where they did their externship.

Considerations

When you are first thinking about pursuing a career in medical assisting, there are a lot of considerations that you have to make that will determine how well you succeed both educationally and professionally. You really need to do thorough research on all the schools that offer medical assistant programs in PA because choosing one whose curriculum may not include everything you want to learn about could cause a setback in your personal career choice by limiting the places where you can work and whether or not you can become certified after graduation. You also need to consider whether the additional benefits that come with being certified matter to you such as higher wages and more job opportunities.

Just to get an idea of the job prospects that are out there for medical assistants, take a look through your local classified ads or on job search websites and review what the requirements are for each one of the job ads. Some of the ads might also list possible salary amounts, which will give you an idea of what kind of money you’re looking at making in your future career and might also motivate you to get the ball rolling with one of the medical assistant programs in PA.
 
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