Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hidden Pitfalls of Taking an Online Course

The success of health care professionals depends on their ability to stay abreast of the medical and scientific changes. With our modern society's busy schedules and fast lifestyles distance education over the Internet provides adult students with the convenience, flexibility, and the ability to study anywhere, any time without being on campus. Also, more and more students in remote areas are looking toward web-based courses to supplement or advance their education. However, just because a course is offered online and requires a fee to sign up doesn't automatically mean the program is accredited, even if the provider claims it is. Often, the certificate or diploma e-learners will receive upon successful completion of an online course is not even worth the paper it is printed on.

A Simple Word of Caution
The Internet serves as a great information resource and education portal, but at the same time, it also is the perfect breeding ground for different types of scams. It is important that potential students recognize this, and understand the difference between fully accredited vs. illegitimate and non-accredited programs. If not, then the e-learner might be in for a rude awakening in the end, when after successfully completing an online course they find out they have nothing to show, and are not permitted to sit for any national certification examinations.

Rule of thumb is: online courses are seldom accredited, or approved by the board of education unless they truly have met or exceed established national standards. The application process for reviews and approval is tedious and lengthy. Online training providers, non-traditional universities, and so called virtual colleges who offer distance learning programs have different accreditation standards than brick-and-mortar universities, colleges, and vocational training institutions. These institutions who went through the process and are approved will always have their program's accreditation status visibly posted on their website and online course catalogs.

What are the Courses to Look for?
E-learners should be careful to choose courses that meet their individual educational needs to ensure that they don't waste their money and time. Some just need a refresher course for personal and professional enhancement and a low cost, non-transferrable, non-accredited course will do just fine. Others may need proper vocational training to receive a much desired promotion, or to achieve specific educational goals that will allow them advance into a new position or career. Then it is vitally important that these individuals graduate from courses that are accredited not just by any, but by the right organization, such as, for example the U.S. Department of Education, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

But How Can You Tell the Difference?
Awareness is the Key! Web page advertisements that contain text, images, seals, and any profound sounding designations that a vocational training school and their programs are accredited containing words such as approved, accredited, accreditation pending, authorized, chartered, licensed, empowered, sponsored, recognized, and registered should be critically examined to determine whether these claims are merely common catch phrases, or the assertions are legit. It is always prudent before joining any programs to get in touch with the provider of the courses to ask questions, and to also contact the accrediting organization to find out whether a program is truly legitimately accredited by them, and to confirm the quality of the online training courses.

What are your past experiences with online distance education courses? Please post your comments!


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27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've got a ask a question that has bothered me for some time.
Why do medical assistants get paid less than LPN, although CMA's
have similiar educational training and more? As CMA's how can we take advantage of the nursing shortage. I just don't think it's fair that I went to school for two years and have an associates degree, should earn less money than a LPN who only has a one year diploma.

Samantha M. in NC said...

I have wondered this same thing. I am planning to start in a medical assisting program this fall and have been trying to decide between LPN or CMA. I lean more towards CMA 2 year program because I like that there is a balance of office and clinical work. I have worked in a medical office in the past and enjoyed it, but wanted to do work more clinical in nature. In talking with the advisor at school and asking her of the benefits of the 2yr over the 1yr program she indicated that there are more job advancement opportunities with a 2 yr degree, i.e., management. So, possibly there is the place where the pay would increase for a CMA with an associates degree. I'm new to this, so if I am wrong please let me know. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Can medical assistants supervise other medical assistants?

Anonymous said...

I am an LPN and I may not have an associates degree in nursing, but I do have an associates degree. Our program is done right with the RN program, so we have the same training as the first year RN. I have worked with CMA's and I personally feel like they do not have as much training as an LPN, so why should they be paid the same?

Anonymous said...

I am an LPN and I may not have an associates degree in nursing, but I do have an associates degree. Our program is done right with the RN program, so we have the same training as the first year RN. I have worked with CMA's and I personally feel like they do not have as much training as an LPN, so why should they be paid the same?

Liz said...

I think that CMA's can take advantage of the nursing shortage by educating physicians and office managers about what it is we are qualified to do. Too many medical offices are unsure of exactly what it is we are trained in. Many professionals dismiss CMA's as a viable because they don't know that a CMA will fit into many RN or LPN positions. Get the word out using your local AAMA. The AAMA has brochures describing our qualifications. Lastly, it was my understanding that the only skills an LPN can do that a CMA cannot are starting IV's and maybe inserting catheters. However, in a medical office setting we are both trained to do the same things. We take vitals, obtain lab samples, care for patients, assist the physician...we have the same training, a CMA just knows the clerical side of the medical office as well. So why are we being paid less?

Anonymous said...

I am a CMA with an Associate of Science degree in Medical Assistant. I also work with some LPN's, and from what I observed I didn't see where they had as much traning as some CMA's, some of them can't even perform a venipuncture. CMA's performe the exact same duties as LPN's with the exception of IV's and catheters which will be coming soon! so why shouldn't they get the same pay?

Anonymous said...

Hello ,
I live in N.Y.C., as far as Medical Assistants go, we are in high demand. LPN's are becoming obsolete and are slowly being phased out.
Medical Assistant jobs are on the all time high.

Anonymous said...

I personally feel a LPN or CMA with on the job experience are just as qualified if not more than a RN. So regardless of degree, experience is more important.

Anonymous said...

Hi Danni

I am one of those people who are doing the elearning thing. I checked out the school before I put my name on anything and they are accredited. I will be able to sit for the National Exam. E-learning became the only practical thing for me to since I have a family and very strange work hours that tend to change weekly. The school I am attending is very picky about the standards they have. There is software you have to download before taking any exams. This software does not allow you to open and close windows, or to resize them and it even puts any search engines out of commission. Since classes are online the school is extremely strict about everything! They have to be! The students and classmates discuss topics through the discussion boards on the school website. There are drop boxes to turn in assignments. There are employment resources even a student union! Perhaps the only down fall I can find is that the student has to find a place to do her preceptorship and externship herself. That maybe prove to be a problem for those in rural areas.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Medical Assistant in NY.And I m current ly making 25 hourly. I t all depends on your experien ce and the medical facilty you are owrking for. I am the medical assistant supervisor over four other medical assistants. I also have 13 years experience. I don't know a lpn making my salary. In NYC lpns are difinitely being fazed out.

NurseMeg said...

I am an LPN, and I work with CMA's at my job, and I do have respect for them. However, there is a reason why we get paid more. We have to go through the first year of the RN program, pass the state boards, and we have a LICENSE. The difference between license and certification is the knowledge base. Not saying that experience does not bring knowledge, but by obtaining a nursing license, you have proven to the state that you have learned about assessment, care plans, therapeutic communication, pharmacology, and technical skills more in depth than a medical assistant or CNA. A person who is licensed is working under themselves. Therefore they are able to do things under a doctors orders, but are solely responsible for various duties. A certification does not give you that responsibility...the doctor is therefore liable for any mistake that you may make. The knowledge base is just not the same. Experience is great though...so why not use it toward a nursing degree if you would like to get paid more?

Anonymous said...

I'm an LPN who has almost achieved my BSN in nursing. My only complaint about medical assistants as the ones I have worked with call themselves Nurses. A medical assistant is a medical assistant and a nurse is a nurse.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty offended by the one womans comment. I just graduated and got my associates degree in medical assisting and one of my teachers is actually an LPN and one an RN. I was told medical assistants are ranked higher because we know the LPN part along with the back office and secretarial part. To me that sounds right but I don't know that is a fact. If we know more than LPN's I feel we should make more money than LPNs. Just sounds fair, right?

Anonymous said...

All my life I've wanted to help people in some way. I realized that being a medical assistant is the answer. I being a patient, CMAs have treated me with compassion and patience. I only worked about four years in a hospital as what they called a Support Partner and then A Technical Partner and cared for patients the same way,whith compassion and good treatment. It was rewarding and therefore motivated me to want to become CMA. In my oppinion patient care is more important. If you have the compassion to become a CMA, that is a concern and not competing of who gets paid more. Suggestion: From experience, before you get into this career, make sure you know what you really want to make YOU happy so others (like patients could be happy too!)

Anonymous said...

I am interested in taking online courses for CNA and then possibly CMA and have a question - How do you determine if the online school is 100% accredited? Another blogger mentioned that they were doing the e-learning thing and the online school was accredited. Would you mind responding with the name of the online school/program you are enrolled in. I don't want to be scammed and hear there are lots of diploma mills out there.

Anonymous said...

I was a medical assistant...and we had been trained in skills...and back office/front office management. I had a pathetic salary.

I went to LPN school...I also have prereqs towards RN.

I've done both.

LPN's know more...we might not "do" more but to say you know more is not true.
Whats Gullian barrie?
Whats Cardiac Tamponade?
What are the main S/S of Hodgkins disease?
How do you take care of a patient with a V/P shunt?
How do you asses that V/P shunt?
What are the S/S that you would look for in the patient with the V/P shunt?
How do you suction a trach?
How do you change the trach?
On and On and on.....
None and more of none I learned while I was a medical assistant. NONE. B/P and V/S you can have all of that that's why we deligate it. Your not nurses.
You have to earn that...like everyone else has

Anonymous said...

Great grammar and spelling.

It sounds like you never gained the trust of the physician you worked with and was never given much responsibilty in the care of your patients as a medical assistant.


When medical assistants and nurses are doing the same job, there should be equal pay.

As with any disease or procedure, medical assistants are taught what they don't know...can be learned. People with diseases usually show up first in an ambulatory setting before going to a hospital, so having a patient with a rare disease is not unheard of and quite often discovered by assessment and/or lab work performed by an assistant.

Pharmacology is studied in depth by medical assistants and the same rule aplies to them as nurses...never give a drug that you aren't familiar with. Injections are an everyday part of a medical assistants job in most US states, some states even allow the placement of IV lines with proper certification (as with nurses).

While most individuals with tracheostomies are in the hospital, some have them permanently and occasionally need a bit of help in an out-patient setting. If so, it is not beyond a medical assistant's ability to suction it if equipment is available. It is not beyond a medical assistant that is properly trained to perform catheterizations, provide assistance with colostomies, debriding wounds, and other such procedures.

Some procedures need to be done in a hospital, because of the equipment and specialists available...that is why we have them.

Your education and experitise only equals the time and effort you put into it.


Having worked as both a CNA and a CMA. I must say I prefer the profession of medical assisting.
I can do what nurses do....but not have to deal day in and day out with the personal care of the incontinent.

While nurses have trained to take care of patient's toileting needs, it seems they regulate that to the CNAs.
(Because of this, I feel CNAs should be the highest paid employee that a hospital/nursing home has.)

Facilities and Licensed staff have long abused the caring, hard working nursing assistant.
Giving them the tasks they no one else wants or will do.

And if anyone is reading this that gives a damn...20 patients per CNA a shift is tooooooo many!

Anonymous said...

I think it is very sad to read all the hostility between a Medical Assistant and an RN. I am a Medical Ass. and I work with several RN's and they are great. We appreciate the work that we all do. I do a lot of things that a RN might not have time to do and I am very appreciated. Also I must say that I am a very educated MA thanks to the wonderful RN's and Docs that answer all my questions. I don't think that this is something people should get upset about, we should all be working for the same purpose...taking care of people. And for 11:52 AM, I do a lot more that vital signs and I have seen the RN's take several VS as well.

yosefa said...

The way that I see it is this...The LPN's are trained more for hospital settings. The MA is trained more for the Dr.'s office. I do not think that a LPN is more educated than a CMA. I just completed my A.S. Medical Assisting degree, and I wouldn't dare waste any of my time to become an LPN after that. I am now going on to be a RN. Why pay all that money to be a MA, and then go on to be an LPN? Just doesn't make sense. And the employer in the Dr.'s office is going to want the MA over the LPN. Well we are capable of running both front and back. They don't just need a clinical body. I am not knocking LPN's either. I am sick of LPN's thinking that they are better than MA's, when I have yet to see that.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Certified and Registered Medical Assistant. All of my experience as an MA has been in the acute-care hospital setting. There has been a trend in hiring MAs in the hospitals. When you work in an acute care setting versus an ambulatory setting such as a Doctor's office, you make more. Most Hospital-based MAs in the area that I work in make about $23 an hour. There seems to be a lot of MA versus LPN and LPN vs MA on this website regarding scope of practice and wage dispute. It's true that there is similar training and educational background in the pathways between MAs and LPNs, but where MAs get the administrative side of healthcare, the LPNs get into the more acute care assessment side of patient care. The LPNs are trained more in the direct patient care and can function under their own license. We as MAs (whether we are CERTIFIED and/or REGISTERED or choose not to be) must work under the supervision of an MD or RN. The role of the MA and LPN in the traditional doctor's office and clinic may be very similar, but the LPNs can also listen to hearts and lungs and make patient care assessment. We as MAs cannot. But we as MAs do have the advantage of having both our clinical and administrative training and are a very valuable team member. And in many situations, we are a patient care advocate and are often the first person that the patient may request (whether it's the doctor's office or the acute care setting) when they have a question. I also have seen a great phasing out of the LPNs in both of the settings. MAs are being utilized more over the CNAs and the LPNs in our hospitals, as well as often being the working majority in the outpatient clinics and doctor's offices. Whatever the future holds for them and us, we will always have jobs and be valuable. There should be no us or them. We are supposed to be team players. Yes; LPNs do often get paid more-but it's not that much more that an MA wage. They deserve it based on their education and amount of clinical hours that they put in. Does it make them more valuable? That depends on what type of working setting they are employed in and what is expected of them and the MAs that they work with. The unfortunate thing is that no matter how many credentials we MAs choose to test for and earn, it still doesn't always increase our wage. I also have various healthcare assistant licenses (for my MA scope of practice to perform venipunctures and injections) but that still doesn't increase my wage, either. But I do make a good wage as a hospital-based Medical Assistant. And I believe that my experience coupled w/all of my credentials is what got me into the acute care setting. So; opting to be Certified and credentialed for various specialties (like phlebotomy, ekg, administrative and clinical medical assistant, etc...) does open up doors. Good luck to all the Medical Assistants out there. You all obviously are very passionate about patient care and proud of your role and title. You deserve to be.

Soon2bRN said...

I am an LPN who also graduated college from a medical assisting program and became a CMA. Unfortunately, I took the Medical Assisting program first. All of our heads (the students) were pumped with these ideas that LPN's are being phased out and Med. Asst. do the same job. I bought into this bogus idea and so did the rest of the students; I also felt that I should have been paid what LPN's were paid because we "do the same things". I am now an LPN, and let me tell you, it is vastly different. I have so much more respect for LPN's now. We have far more responsibility, and have independent tasks (without MD supervision). We must be able to recognize changes or signs in our patients that a Medical Asst. is not trained to recognize, we must know what these changes may indicate, and there is so much more that we do that a Med. Asst. is nowhere near trained to do. Do not be ignorant to the fact that the amount of time which you attend school is not what is important, it is the content of the curriculum that makes the difference. After being on both sides, I can honestly say LPN's and Med. Asst. should not be compensated equally. Nursing is based on the nursing process, which is a very methodical way of critical thinking and assessment,planning,diagnosing,etc;Med Asst. are not learned in this, they do not learn theory. Medical Assistants are definitely important to the healthcare industry but their depth of knowledge is not nearly on the level of an LPN. You must also remember LPN's have licenses, not certification. Sorry, but it's true.

Just a Note: Med. Asst. are needed in this industry, but LPN's are not, and I repeat, are not, being phased out. There was recently a conference on CNN with Bloomberg about nursing and they are developing more LPN programs in NYC because more LPN's are needed. Does that sound like we are being phased out,I don't think so. This is something that Med. Asst. schools would like you to believe so you can enroll into the Med Asst. program. I fell for it to. Trust me, this was told to me by a reliable source (a school administrator)once I became an LPN. Needless to say I was livid to learn this after the fact. And no LPN's don't learn the administrative side because that is not our job. We need to spend our time continually observing and assessing our patients, suctioning trachs, administering tube feedings, and writing detailed "NURSING NOTES" (just to name a few)because those are our responsibilities as licensed professionals. LPN's and RN's may also be called to help prove malpractice in court because we are thought to have concrete knowledge in patient care as LICENSED professionals. And lastly, it is ILLEGAL for Med. Assistants to call themselves nurses. Patients have a right to know the accurate credentials of their healthcare providers.
Hope this was helpful.

Anonymous said...

Oh who really cares? I mean LPN, MA, seriously, same thing. LPN's ride on their own licenses, where as MA's are working under the Dr.'s and any other Licensed personnel, licenses. It's OK! LPN's AND MA's both can get jobs. I hate so see people looking down on someone elses job. LPN's are NO better than an MA. I am a MA. I just got hired with a huge company. We had orientation. Well yesterday was actually the 3rd day of orientation and we had to take a med test. It was for RNs, LPNS, and MA. The room was filled with MA's and just 1 LPN. THis LPN was just too over herself. Well she got a 81 on the Med test. That didn't say much to me, atleast nothing positive. Don't put yourselves on petalstools just to put someone beneath you. Thanks:)

BAM M.D. said...

I find it so comical that the RN's and CMA's are bickering like babies! I thought I would put my 2 cents worth in. A comment was made about MA's not knowing how to determine signs and symptoms of diseases? False, they are trained in that as well as all other things the LPN does. An LPN is just a practical nurse which does no more than an MA, they are just licensed and the MD is not responsible for the LPN goof ups. Believe me, at my facility which deals in urgent/critical care, my CNA's are as important as what few LPN's we have. Personally, the CMA's are in more demand than the LPN because of their broad range of spectrum when it comes to all aspects of the healthcare field. So LPN's, chew on that a while, you only get paid a dollar or two more an hour and that is for the "License" part of your title.

Anonymous said...

LPN is a stupid career to go for these days! Employers don't hire LPN's anymore. They don't hire them because Medical Assistants do the same work and more than an LPN and they can pay them less money to do it!

LPN nursing said...

LPN certification is as good as any other professional health care courses And with experience the demand grows.

Anonymous said...

LPN is qualified to work in a variety of settings, ma is only.qualified to work in DR office. I am a nurse supervisor who btw has been a ma before going back to school and doctors are well aware of the scope of practice medical assistants are allowed to do and that's why they don't cross boundaries otherwise they will face Mal practice suites. The other area you are misinformed is ma and LPN having same education, tho they might go to school same amount of time the nurse program gets deeper into the human body, pharmacology Ect while medical assistant learns briefly about human body and the rest of time learns office procedures.the nurse focus is 100% patient care we have receptionist, secretaries, admission clerks for the office stuff. Ma is glorified like.nurse asst in DR office instead of Hosp.no disrespect but its offensive to be compared to ma...its equivalent to my husband who is police officer being compared to security officer when we know they are VERY DIFFERENT. GO BACK TO SCHOOL IF YOU WANT TO BE CONSIDERED A NURSE