Thursday, September 29, 2005

Distance Education vs. Traditional Education for Medical Assistants

What is Distance Education? Lots of colleges, universities and institutes are offering online study. The possibility of earning a certificate, diploma, or degree without ever stepping into a classroom and never meeting instructors and classmates face-to-face is very attractive. However, earning a Medical Assistant certificate from a corner desk in your living room or home office without might be a bit more challenging than you thought.

How Does Distance Education Work? Distance education is created and delivered online. The student's main tool is the computer and Internet service to retrieve the lessons, assignments, quizzes and tests. Communication tools such as message boards and live chats to share ideas, debate issues, and learn from each others' experiences are also often an integral part of distance education. Access to online research libraries and services are often provided by the instructor, as well as to other relevant websites for further research and self-study. Once a student has submitted an assignment response or quiz the instructor reviews the work via computer and unless there are certain time limits or restraints everybody works at their own pace on their own time and location that's convenient for them.

What Usually Attracts People to Distance Education Programs?
Distance education online is great for those who seek personal and professional advancement in certain areas of existing knowledge and expertise. Learning from home is especially attractive to students who want to be near their family, work on their own, show what they can do, avoid the hassle of the commute, avoid discrimination, and save money on childcare, books, and tuition.

Is Distance Education as Good as Traditional Education?
Distance education is only as good as you make it. It is very different from education provided by experts in a traditional classroom. Partaking in a distance education program requires considerable amounts of self-discipline, computer skills, and Internet know-how. For the computer and Internet savvy student distance education programs are great to learn fundamental theories, or utilize them as refresher courses to solidify and expand existing knowledge. However, many agree that when it comes to novices and vocational training, especially in nursing, the health care industry, and medical assisting field, students should learn their skills in real classrooms. Only here are they provided with the student teacher interaction, realistic case scenarios, and hands-on exercises that prepares them to anticipate, respond, and relate to situations that typically arise at the future workplace, from the simplest to the most complex.

Even today, with all progress made, employers who hire prefer gradates from brick-and-mortar campuses over applicants that finished an online course. Employers feel that they are better prepared for today's jobs because online education relies on new hypothesis and concepts that are not yet fully understood, hardly standardized, and still poorly regulated.

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. Depending on individual goals and outcome, distance education is ideal and sufficient for many, but certain professions require approved training, clinical supervision, and continued professional development.

Distance Education Check List:

Contact leading professional associations and certification bodies and ask about their guidelines to who is eligible to sit for their professional certification exams.

  • Get in touch with the provider of the courses and ask questions.
  • Choose only courses that meet your specific educational needs and goals.
  • Check the school's accreditation status and reputation.
  • Ask around; seek advice from professionals already in the field, read the newspaper to find out current trends, what employers want, and what the future outlook might be.
  • Consult the Better Business Bureau and similar consumer protection resources.
  • Know the good from the bad!

  • Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Proper Education Is Key to Success

    Types of Medical Assistant Programs:
    Traditionally, there are two types of medical assistant programs, two-year career training programs which result in an Associate’s Degree, and a one-year, or accelerated medical assistant programs held at vocational training institutions resulting in either a certificate or diploma that also qualify their graduates to sit for the national certification exams.

    Job Oriented Vocational Training:
    Vocational training institutions usually structure their programs to be realistic and simulate the workplace to teach their students the skills they need to get a job, stay employed, and advance in their profession.

    This includes teaching medical assistant students all administrative, clinical, technical, and nontechnical skills, enhancing problem solving, and teamworking skills, improving their oral communications, and work ethics, refining their interpersonal, and collaborative abilities with others, and reinforcing cognitive traits that they will have to rely on once they are on the job.

    Training on the Job:
    However, formal training in medical assisting while generally preferred is not always required. There still are many employers, usually physicians in group or private practices, who prefer to train their medical assistants according to their own specific needs.

    Because all medical assistants, whether trained in a school, or on the job must be able to efficiently handle administrative, and clinical skills, which includes simple STAT lab tests, running automated office machines, autoclaves, urinalysis, and hematology systems, and pass certain other related competencies, prior volunteer experience in the healthcare field, or prior work experience in a nursing home, health clinic, home healthcare setting, hospital, customer services, or reception desk can prove to be extremely helpful!

    eLearning for Medical Assistants -- Modern vs. Traditional Instruction:
    More and more medical assisting and related technical career courses are being made available over the Internet via structured distance education programs. The availability of online classes is expanding coast to coast. They promise conveniences that real classroom teaching can hardly provide.

    Although their lessons are often well thought out and well planned through use of virtual classrooms, audio visual presentations, and digital collaboration via a personal computer they do not necessarily offer the same quality and quantity of education as on campus classroom instruction offers. Since elearners students are lacking in the direct student-instructor, student-student interaction, and clinical hands-on aspects of the training they automatically miss out in some of the most crucial and indispensable requisite areas of quality career education and training.

    Choosing a Program:
    Experts in the field always recommend that medical assistant students only deal with reputable training institutions, and choose from respected programs that are recognized and accredited by the RIGHT organizations. Furthermore, they should seek out schools where caring instructors are "real world" faculty professionals qualified (through certification) and trained in the areas of clinical, administrative, and pharmacology lab. Only this way will medical assistant students receive the knowledge and training they need to succeed. recommends: (Quote) "Knowing something about a school's accreditation can tell you a lot about the value of the degree or course for which you are paying. If you obtain a degree or take a course from a non-accredited institution you may find that the degree is not recognized by some employers or that the course credits may not transfer to other institutions. Understanding accreditation can also help you identify and avoid "diploma mills" (i.e. an unaccredited institution that grants degrees without ensuring students are properly qualified.)" (End Quote). Read their very informational article on Distance Learning Accreditation!

    Medical assistant seeking classroom or distance education programs for their training should check whether they are approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and check with regional accrediting agencies that have been evaluated and deemed to meet high quality standards.

    See TOP Schools! To learn more about educational requirements, and practical tips for handling emergencies, and proper documentation visit Medical Assistant Net on the Web. There is lots of additional "scope of practice for medical assistants" info at that web site.

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Medical Assistant Online Training -- Students Must Use Extreme Caution

    This is an example:
    St. Augustine Educational Services on the Internet AKA St. Augustine Medical Assistant School—advertised on the Internet as an accredited medical assistant online school. Please know that the article reflects only, and solely our own opinion. If there is anything you'd like to share or add to this article, please feel free to do so. Please utilize the "add comment" button below.

    St. Augustine Medical Assistant School!
    St. Augustine Educational Services is one example where exercising extreme caution before signing up for medical assistant training is advised. Only because St. Augustine Educational Services is a heavy advertiser on the search engines and ranks high it does not automatically mean that their program is right for medical assistant students educational and professional needs.
    St. Augustine Educational Services is a school on the Internet that offers medical assistant classes through distance education online. Cost: $645 -- Non-refundable! Their main web site (one of many) is located at However, to raise their online presence and recruitment of students into their medical assistant distance education and training program this website is interlinked with a broad network of other websites.
    As Posted on St. Augustine's Home Page:"An Accredited, Convenient and Affordable Online Distance Education ProgramYou can now study online to earn an accredited Medical Assistant Certificate in just 6-8 weeks!"
    St. Augustine Educational Services describes their online school as a worldwide leader in online medical assistant education and proclaims to be an accredited medical assistant school. In the past their web site indicated that that they were a school in Florida which may lead to confusion since there also is the University of St. Augustine in St. Augustine, Florida (especially with the added image of a building that resembles a southern university campus). However, this reference has now been removed from their web site. See archived web page!
    Once visitors start to dig through their web pages and drill deeper into their site they find a page (not easy to find!) that explains what St. Augustine Educational Services really is: St. Augustine Educational Services is a business located in the British Virgin Islands and accredited by a private non-government agency called “The Certification Board”.

    The Certification Board through which St. Augustine Medical Assistant School is accredited is based in Owensboro, Kentucky. Anyone can join over the Internet for a one-time fee of $200! Upon completion of their distance education program St. Augustine Educational Services issues nothing more, nothing less than a certificate of completion, which is a simple piece of paper imprinted "Certificate of Completion" with the student's name.
    Read more details every student should know
    about St. Augustine's classes
    signing up at:

    In Conclusion:

    Students who sign up for medical assistant or other allied health professional related vocational training are urged to seek out properly accredited programs that meet national standards, make them eligible to sit for the national certification exams, and lead to higher education, and/or a degree. Over the past years recognized national certification and accreditation agencies and sponsors have become very engaged in providing quality education, professional membership support, and building awareness among educators, employers, supervisors, and students about the importance of attending proper accredited schools and programs.

    • National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
    • American Medical Technologists (AMT)
    • American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA)

    For example, the AAMA's Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), AMT's Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) certification, and/or NHA's Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and Certified Administrative Medical Assistant (CMAA) certification exams are available ONLY for qualified candidates from properly accredited schools. Anyone with questions can go to these organization's websites to find more information on the certification process.

    Unless potential medical assistant students understand the difference between fully accredited vs. the multitude of gray-area, non-accredited, and flat-out illegitimate vocational training programs offered online, they might be in for a rude awakening, when after having successfully completed the course they find out that they have virtually nothing to show for their money and efforts. Even worse: that they are not permitted to sit for any of the professional certification exams!

    It is extremely important that anybody who seeks vocational training graduates from courses that are approved and accredited by the RIGHT agencies, such as the United States Board of Education, the US Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the US Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), the US Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and other governmental agencies and regulatory organizations, such as Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

    Comments -------------------------------
    A comment that was previously added to the article below, but then deleted:
    Quote: "I would like to see more info on St Augustine they claim they are accredited by an organization called “The Certification Board” It is totally phony website address at". Here is the information about St. Augustine's accreditation agency from the WhoIs Name Intelligence, Inc. database. Anyone interested in finding out more details about St. Augustine's accreditation status here is the contact information:
    • Title: National Accreditation and Certification Board
    • Description: Offers accreditation for alternative health programs, colleges and graduates.
    • Based in Owensboro, Kentucky.
    • Sponsoring Registrar: Intercosmos Media Group Inc.
    • Registrant Name: Steve Rusher
    • Registrant Organization: American Mystery Cat INC.
    • Registrant Street: 358 East Main Street
    • Registrant City: Fordsville
    • Registrant State/Province: KY
    • Registrant Postal Code: 42343
    • Registrant Country: US
    • Registrant Phone: 270.276.5384

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