If you’re looking to pursue a career in medical assisting, you have lots of options. There are dozens of different accredited online programs, and it can be overwhelming to find the “right one.” After all, how do you know what the “right one” looks like?
Accreditation is the Most Important
Before looking at anything else, you’ll want to verify accreditation. This is the single most important aspect of the search process, and you shouldn’t pursue any programs that aren’t transparent and truthful regarding their status.
According to the CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation), “Accreditation is your friend. It protects you because it requires that schools and programs tell the truth about everything that you need to know about your education.”
You can’t underestimate the importance of accreditation. This status will tell you about things like your chances of obtaining a job upon graduation or completion, the type of salary you can expect, whether teachers and professors are qualified to teach courses, and whether potential employers will look highly upon your resume.
Look at Program Requirements and Course Descriptions
After verifying the accreditation status of programs in which you’re interested, it’s time to turn your attention to more specific details regarding the program’s requirements, etc. You can usually find this information online or by speaking with an admissions counselor. Ask about things like mandatory materials, learning support, time requirements, overall difficulty level, estimated time of completion, and so on.
In a trend that’s becoming increasingly common, many online programs offer “life credits.” These are credits given to adults who already have considerable work experience. In some cases, experienced adults can receive as much as 25 percent of the necessary credits for graduation by supplying the school with adequate information regarding past work experience.
Individual course descriptions are also important, as they’ll tell you what the program focuses on and whether it’s something that interests you. If you have questions regarding specific curricula, it’s best to investigate further by contacting professors or admission counselors.
Consider the Existing Alumni Network
Most people fail to consider the alumni network before starting a new online program, and this is a major oversight. You’ll want to choose a program with a large existing network, as this increases your chances of finding opportunities after graduation.
People with common experiences and educational backgrounds are often willing to help each other and extend opportunities – something that’s extremely valuable when you’re first starting out in the medical assisting field.
Keep CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) Exam in Mind
In all likelihood, you’ll need to take and pass the official CMA exam after completing your degree program. That’s why it’s important to ask about the program’s CMA exam reputation and job placement statistics. When considering a program, ask questions like:
- What percentage of your students has passed the CMA exam in the past five years?
- What percentage of your students obtains full-time positions after graduating from your program?
- What’s the average CMA score of your students, and how does that compare to the national average?
While high CMA exam numbers have no impact on your individual score, they’re a good indicator that the program does an adequate job of preparing students for post-graduate success. If a program has below average numbers, this is a major red flag (and aa sign that you need to take a closer look at the details).
At Orion College, we’re the pioneers of online medical assisting education. We offer a wide variety of degree programs with flexible online, campus-based, and blended learning opportunities. Using state of the art, on-site laboratories and virtual classrooms, we’re able to prepare our students for long, successful careers in healthcare. For more information regarding our individual programs or our various accreditations and memberships, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!