Library Services for Medical Assisting Students at The New York School for Medical and Dental Assistants (NYSMDA)

Information literacy encompasses the skills that enable an individual to: identify when information is needed; find the needed information; evaluate the information; apply the information effectively; and acknowledge the source of the information. Libraries serving Medical Assisting students provide the space, the resources, and the assistance needed for students to develop these skills and effectively retrieve and utilize the information they need to complete their school assignments. Best of all, a Medical Assisting student who develops information literacy skills uses those skills on the job, keeping current and accurate both with clinical services and with the knowledge needed for up-to-date and effective patient education.

The stated mission of the NYSMDA library is: “to provide students, faculty, and staff with excellent service and the quality resources needed to support the skills necessary to access, evaluate, and use information effectively. The library aims to support the educational and research activities of the NYSMDA community in order for students to develop an appreciation of library resources and become lifelong learners. “

We fulfill that mission by providing the following:

Location: The library is the place to go for learning outside the classroom.

Sometimes it gets lively, but most of the time the library is a place where students can study without distractions. We provide space, equipment, resources, and supplies to facilitate student learning. Students can work at a study table or use one of the library computers for research or for Microsoft Office Applications. Work on their own or collaborate with a group. Print and photocopy. Staples, tape, scissors, pencils… students ask at the desk and we provide it if we can.

Lookups: The library has the right stuff to use for school research.

The library provides books and articles that are specifically geared to what Medical Assisting students need for their classes. We have over 1500 books and journals in the library. Our electronic databases include medical journals and online reference books, and can be accessed both at the school and off-campus, twenty-four (24) hours a day seven (7) days a week. Topics include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, insurance and medical billing, disease and pathology, pharmacology, law and medical ethics, phlebotomy, medical office administration, electronic health records, psychology, electrocardiography, nutrition, and more.

During the Medical Assistant Program at NYSMDA a student will be required to complete several research projects.  The school strongly recommends that its students seek the assistance of the school’s full-time librarian in completing these projects.  Working with the assistance of the librarian teaches NYSMDA students to be more efficient in finding information on the internet as well as finding printed resources.  

Some of the topics of the research papers include: Selecting a body system and composing a brief description of its organs and describing the most common diseases that are associated with this system; Selecting a topic about either healthcare laws or bioethics and describing its practical application; Selecting a disease and outlining the diseases history, pathophysiology, diagnostic criteria and the management of the disease; The holistic research project allows students to select a topic about herbs or complementary medicine or alternative medicine and if applicable share their personal experiences with holistic medicine.  In addition to writing a paper these projects also give the student the opportunity to make an oral presentation of their paper in front of their classmates.   

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Librarian: The librarian is there to help.

Students come to school knowing how to search online for things they need; they don’t always know how to tell whether information is reliable, authoritative, or appropriate for the Medical Assisting field. The librarian knows the resources and the curriculum, and can help students go beyond Google to find information in sources appropriate for health professionals. The librarian works individually with students who come into the library, and provides lessons to classes who are preparing for a research assignment. Ask a question! We help students find the answers – and learn how to find the answers for themselves.

By

Hinde Fertig Senior Librarian NYSMDA

Advantages of Medical Assistant Certification

If you are considering a career in medical assisting, you should be aware of the advantages of becoming a certified or registered medical assistant.  The New York School for Medical and Dental Assistants (NYSMDA) has an outstanding reputation for producing well-prepared, quality medical assistants in and around New York City.  However, some doctors outside of the city may not aware of the school’s outstanding reputation. Therefore, if you move and conduct a job search outside of New York City, it is very important to have a nationally recognized credential.  By obtaining a nationally recognized credential, you demonstrate to a prospective employer that you have a certain level of competency.

Additionally, doctors who hire staff that are certified or registered receive a larger reimbursement from Medicare and or Medicaid.  Therefore, being certified or registered will make you a more attractive job candidate.  Another advantage to becoming certified is that studying and taking a certification exam allows you to brush up on and demonstrate your theoretical knowledge.  As a result, you will be much more capable of communicating your knowledge with doctors and patients and you will approach the job with a much higher level of confidence.   

The certification organizations listed below have strong continuing education courses and being a member of these organizations allows you to continue taking continuing education courses at a reasonable price.  The three (3) leading medical assisting certification organizations are the American Association of Medical Assistants which administers the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) exam, the National Health Association (NHA) which administers the Clinical Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA) and the American Medical Technologist (AMT) which administers the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Exam.  

Although all of these organizations are reputable and have a lot to offer, at NYSMDA we recommend that our students take the RMA exam to become certified and to qualify for membership with the AMT.   The AMT is a nationally and internationally recognized certification agency and membership society for a variety of allied health professions including medical assisting.  The AMT is located in Rosemont, Illinois and was founded in 1939.

AMT certification examinations are developed, administered and analyzed using industry standards and state-of -the-art methodologies.  Each examination is developed by a committee of subject-matter experts.  The AMT is accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCAA) for its competency based examinations.  Upon passing the RMA, you will automatically become a member of the AMT and have the benefits of membership at your disposal.  

The fastest way to be eligible to sit for the RMA exam is to graduate from a Medical Assistant Program accredited by an agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDOE) that is at least 720 hours in length and includes at least a 160-hour externship component.  If you have graduated from such a program in the last four years, you are immediately eligible to sit for the exam.  If you graduated more than four (4) years ago then you must have worked as a medical assistant for three (3) of the last five (5) years in both clinical and administrative areas.  

You can also qualify to sit for the RMA exam if you graduated from a military medical services training program, or you have worked, and you can document that you have worked as a medical assistant for five (5) out of the last seven (7) years.  This work experience must be full time and must include both clinical and administrative duties.

You can also sit for the RMA exam if you are a current instructor in a medical assisting program that is accredited by an agency that is recognized by the USDOE and you have completed a course of instruction in a healthcare discipline and you have one (1) year of teaching experience in both clinical and administrative areas and you can verify at least three (3) years of medical assisting occupational experience in both clinical and administrative areas.  If you have five (5) years of medical assisting teaching experience in both clinical and administrative areas, then the occupational experience is not a requirement for eligibility.  

The RMA exam is a difficult exam to pass and it is highly recommended that you take the exam as close to your graduation date as possible.  The further away a graduate is from their intense course of study, the more they forget and the harder it is for them to be well prepared for the exam.  It is recommended that a recent graduate spend at least thirty (30) hours preparing to take the exam.  

Is a Career in Medical Assisting for You?

There are numerous considerations when considering whether to enter a career in medical assisting.  This article will discuss the medical assisting career, so you can determine if the career is a good fit.  

Medical Assistants are employed in doctor’s offices, hospitals and other healthcare facilities.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics fifty-seven (57) percent of all Medical Assistants are employed in private doctor’s offices and fifteen (15) percent are employed in hospitals.  

Most Medical Assistants have some administrative duties and some clinical duties.  Some larger medical facilities have assistants who specialize in clinical or administrative duties.  Some Medical Assistant duties may include taking and recording patient histories, measuring vital signs such as pulse, blood pressure, weight and respiration, take and record electrocardiographs (EKG), perform Phlebotomy (drawing blood), performing simple lab tests, scheduling patient appointments and entering patient information into medical records.  Most medical facilities have switched from paper records to electronic records.  Therefore, the Medical Assistant must be able to input the patients records into the facilities electronic system.  The duties will vary significantly based on the specialty of the healthcare facility, the size of the facility and its location.

The effective Medical Assistant must be able to take accurate readings on a timely basis and must be able to record these readings in the patient’s file.  In today’s healthcare field patient confidentiality is very important.  Therefore, it is important that the patient’s records are only discussed with healthcare employees who are working with the patient.   Most Medical Assistants spend a good part of the day standing so it is important that you can stand for a good portion of the work day.  

Most doctors who hire a medical assistant want someone who has achieved at least a high school diploma or its equivalency.  If you do not have this important credential and want to be a Medical Assistant, it is important that you either finish high school or study and take the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC).  If you reside in the state of New York, please go to http://www.acces.nysed.gov/what-hsetasc-test to find information on how to take and study for the TASC.

Another important factor when considering a career in this field is to assess whether you enjoy working with many different people over the course of a day.  Most Medical Assistants work in busy offices where they must serve many different people on a daily basis.  The assistants must be engaging and polite with patients who are often nervous and sometimes in considerable pain.  If a patient is in pain a medical assistant must act in a calm and professional manner.  A medical assistant may see twenty-five (25) patients a day and before choosing this career everyone should ask themselves if they can keep themselves in an upbeat mood for all twenty-five (25) patients that they may see daily.

Another question to ask yourself prior to embarking on this career path is will I be able to earn a satisfactory salary?  According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm) the 2016 median annual earnings of a Medical Assistant was $31,540.  Medical Assistants often go back to school, so they can advance and earn a higher salary in the healthcare field.  Some of the careers Medical Assistants advance into are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Respiratory Therapists, X-Ray Technician and Physicians Assistant.  In the New York City area admission into these programs are competitive so it is important to maintain good grades.  

Being a Medical Assistant is a good profession if you like being on your feet for a good portion of the work day, have earned at least a high school diploma or its equivalency and enjoy engaging and helping a wide variety of people.  While Medical Assistants have earnings limitations, it can be considered a great entry level position in the healthcare field.

Choosing the Right Clinical Medical Assisting School

So you have decided that you want to be a Medical Assistant, now there are several steps that you need to take to be able to find employment as a medical assistant.  Some doctors will hire Medical Assistants who do not have any formal training and they will train their assistants in their office.  These doctors usually want to hire someone who is articulate and upbeat and usually someone with some post-secondary education.  However, most doctors prefer to hire assistants who have had formal training.  Therefore, it may be advantageous to attend a training program.  By attending a training program, you will have general training which will make you more marketable to a wide variety of doctor’ s offices.

There are many training programs in New York City.  Some are certificate programs and others are associate degree granting programs.  Some programs are exclusively administrative programs that do not have any hands on clinical portion.  So, if you want to be a clinical assistant make sure that you do not enroll in an administrative program.  There are many online programs.  An online program cannot adequately train you in the clinical skills to make you an effective assistant.  So, do not enroll in an online program.   

Most clinical Medical Assistant programs have an internship component to the program where the school will place you at a medical office where you can practice the skills you learned in school on the job.  This is a very important component of a training program and you should only attend a program that offers an internship component.   

In selecting a training program to attend it is very important to select a program that is taught at a New York State licensed school.  By selecting a New York State licensed school, you are assured that the curriculum has been reviewed and approved by the state and that the teachers are licensed teachers who meet the New York State teaching requirements in terms of education and occupational work experience.  Upon calling a school this should be the first question you ask.

Another question that should be asked is whether a school is accredited.  School’s that are accredited undergo vigorous reviews from their accrediting agency.  In these reviews a team of experts visits the school and evaluates the effectiveness of the education.  Accrediting agencies have minimum employment and graduation standards that a school must meet.  Therefore, it is advantageous to choose a school that is accredited.  

Since there are many medical assistant training programs in New York City it is very important that you visit more than one program.  I recommend that you visit at least three (3) different programs before making your choice.  The first step to visiting a program is to call the school and book a tour and an informational interview.  During your informational interview you should ask to see the career services people.  If the school does not have any employees specifically dedicated to career services, then you should find another school.  When you meet with the career services personnel you should ask them what their placement rates are and the average starting salaries of graduates.  You should also ask them the reasons why graduates do not find positions in the field of training.  If the school does not have at least an eighty (80) percent placement rate, then you should look for a school that has better placement.

Another thing that you should do on your visit is to ask to sit in on a class.  Sitting in on a class can tell you many things about an institution.  Does the teacher have the attention of the students?  Is the teacher passionate about teaching?  If the answer to both questions is no, then maybe you should not enroll in the school.

Sitting in on a class also affords you the opportunity to meet students who are currently attending the program.  You should also find out if the students are happy attending the program.  You can ask questions such as; Do you feel good about your decision to attend the school? Are the instructors interested in your academic progress? and Is the training equipment sufficiently up to date and kept in good repair?  If you consistently receive negative answers to these questions, then you should not enroll in the school.


You should also visit financial aid to make sure how much the program will cost you and whether you will be required to take out a loan to pay for the cost of the program.  If the school wants you to sign an enrollment agreement prior to visiting financial aid and prior to knowing how you will pay for the program then you should choose another school.


There are many Medical Assistant programs in New York City, so you should spend a considerable amount of time visiting these schools and asking the right questions so that you enroll in a school that will provide you the best opportunity to succeed in the field.