Looking to become a medical assistant? Texas has no shortage of quality medical assisting schools, but never select a course unless you’re confident in the person teaching it. Before you choose a course, ask the following questions about its instructor:
Can this instructor break down complex concepts?
Medical assisting programs often last no longer than a year, during which time they must teach you enough medical and technical knowledge for you to understand most hospital functions. Instilling complex medical knowledge in a year is no easy task. Even the most knowledgeable instructors won’t be able to do it if they lack the rhetorical skills and patience to explain complex concepts to the uninitiated. You should thus never choose instructors based solely on their degrees or knowledge. Talk to a prospective instructor’s former students, and ask them how easy it was to understand the instructor. If possible, meet with instructors in person, ask them about what they teach, and pay attention to how they explain it to you.
How much practical experience does this instructor have?
Successful medical assistants not only need to know basic administrative skills, medical principles, and technical processes, but must also be able to put all of these skills to good use in tandem on stressful, fast-paced days. Dealing with high patient volume requires patience, good memory, and cool-headedness as much as technical knowledge; never trust an instructor who isn’t familiar with these skills. The best instructors have practical experience working as medical assistants or in other fast-paced medical professions, and can teach you tips for remaining level-headed and remembering all the relevant information. Instructors who lack this insight will not adequately prepare you for a career in medical assistance, regardless of how much technical knowledge they have.
Does this instructor anticipate future trends?
Like all medical workers, medical assistants have to keep up with the rapid technological, economic, and regulatory changes that constantly transform the healthcare industry. At the current pace of change, skills that are relevant today may be obsolete within five years. Good medical assisting programs will thus anticipate future changes, prepare you for those changes, and teach you the research skills to stay up-to-date on healthcare facts. You should thus assess possible instructors to see how much attention they pay to changes in the healthcare industry. Try to get hold of the coursepacks or textbooks the instructor uses and see how often those books reference recent research on healthcare trends. Talk to former students to see what kind of skills they learned and how prepared they are for research. The more dynamic the skills you learn, the more valuable your education will be.
How motivated is the instructor?
Instructor motivation isn’t trivial, particularly in medical assisting programs. Instructors who view their jobs as a means to an end– for example, doctoral graduates who are only working as medical assistant instructors until they can apply for tenured professorships– are unlikely to invest any more time or energy than the minimum amount required. Instead, look for instructors who have a passion for teaching medical assisting programs. The more excited they are about their jobs, the more likely they are to work with you after class, write you letters of recommendation, and correspond with you after graduation.
Instructors are important, but they alone can’t guarantee an effective medical assisting program. To make the most of your education, look for a school that not only has quality instructors but also offers the resources and networking to get you started on a promising career. Contact the Southern Careers Institute to learn more about training as a medical assistant.