The number of medical assistants needed by the healthcare industry is exploding. Medical facilities are getting larger, and more of them are opening up, leading a pronounced need for additional workers. By extension, the need for more medical assistants also means a need for more medical assistant training programs.
If you do some research on medical assisting schools, you’ll soon find a number of fly-by-night, seat-of-the-pants operations, schools that are woefully inadequate to the task of properly educating the next generation of medical assistant. These schools may have recently opened, or perhaps the staff isn’t educated properly. Whatever the reason, there are many schools that simply aren’t up to the task.
On the flip side, though, are the good schools. The ones that follow the rules and reward medical assistant students for hard work, and offer an education that actually teaches real skills and imparts knowledge important to your career. Most students are looking for that educational experience, but how do you know where you will find it?
It can be difficult, for sure, but you certainly can find those good medical assistant schools, and choosing them isn’t just getting lucky on that proverbial roll of the dice. Here are four signs to help you spot good medical assistant schools.
- The medical assistant school is accredited. This is your easiest and best way to tell whether you’re choosing a good school. There are several accrediting bodies whose chief job is to identify schools that offer solid, quality educational experiences and put their seal of approval on them. Look at the accreditation your medical assistant school has, and check out the organization doing the accrediting. Do they offer this service to a large number of respected schools? If so, you are most likely in good shape.
- The school shows a commitment to education. Does the school seek to educate its medical assistant students, or merely push them out of the door? What kinds of extra help sessions, including tutoring, do they offer? Are the instructors available outside of classroom time? Are there programs in place that encourage students to meet outside of class for collaborative learning? These questions may be difficult to answer from the outside; if possible (and it is, given today’s social media climate and the Internet) speak with a current or former student of the school and find out their thoughts on the educational experience.
- They offer job placement assistance. If your medical assistant school cares enough to hire people specifically to help their students find a job, there’s a good chance they’re actually trying to educate them properly. Medical assisting is a hot career field, so it should be relatively easy to place students who have received a good educational experience. Also beware the cursory efforts at medical assistant job placement; as you’re researching the school, see what their job placement rate is. If it’s unusually low, they may just offer “job placement assistance” for the sake of saying they have it. Plus, a super low rate is another indication that the employees coming out of the school are not receiving a quality education.
- They offer practical lab applications AND classroom time. Medical assisting is an occupation that requires a lot of knowledge and practical application. You should be sitting in a classroom at times absorbing theory, and you should be putting that theory to work in a lab environment. You are more likely to become a competent medical assistant if you have the proper training; you need both of those aspects to have the proper training. You should also check out the school’s facilities and make sure they seem adequate for an educational environment. Don’t be afraid to compare.
Don’t fool yourself: it’s not always easy to know if your medical assistant school is going to afford you the best educational experience you can get just by looking at the outside, or even inside, of a building. Medical assistants are being employed at a rapid rate, and while the coming years will bring more job opportunities, they will also bring increased competition as other prospective medical assistants also attempt to enter the field. Make sure the education you get yourself is reflective of the quality of a medical assistant.