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.