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People interested in a medical assistant or similar related career often are unsure of what to look for in vocational training institutions and what they should expect from the program they choose.

It is highly recommended that those who seek formal training opt for accredited training programs that meet the clearly defined and strictly upheld criteria of one of the regional or national accreditors. Finding out whether a school or online course and their programs are accredited is an important step in determining whether the education provided will meet all learning goals and is truly worth the time and money.

In the United States most accreditations are granted by the government, approved state agencies, or organizations, and associations that rely on a variety of advisory groups in their continuous effort to improve the safety and quality of education and training provided to the public. In addition, most states have some means of approving or certifying the operation of independent and other nonpublic schools.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are accreditors for postsecondary programs, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the largest specialized accreditor in the health sciences field, the Accrediting Bureau of

Health Education Schools (ABHES) accredits private postsecondary institutions and programs preparing individuals for entry into the medical assisting profession, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) strives to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations.

Graduates of postsecondary medical assisting programs accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES are immediately eligible to take AAMA’s Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) certification exam. Graduates from ABHES accredited medical assisting programs are also immediately eligible to take the RMA examination offered by the American Medical Technologists (AMT). Both CAAHEP and ABHES publish a list of their accredited programs.

Accreditation for different level public and private educational institutions, colleges, universities, graduate schools in the United States is divided into geographical areas. These are the regional accreditation bodies:

(1) Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
(2) New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
(3) North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NASC)
(4) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
(5) Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC)
(6) Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Important is that those seeking medical assistant training should not

overlook that an accredited versus a legitimate institution does not always mean the same thing! There is a plethora of different accreditations offered in the United States covering all imaginable areas of vocational and higher education. Some institutions claiming these accreditations are not necessarily always legitimate. Only fully accredited institutions have the above listed accreditations.

Distance education over the Internet provides e-learners with the convenience, flexibility, and the ability to study anywhere, any time without being on campus. However, taking courses online doesn't always mean that the program they have chosen is accredited or legit and sometimes, if not careful, the diploma they receive is not even worth the paper it is printed on.

Online training providers, non-traditional universities, and colleges who offer virtual and distance learning programs have different accreditation standards and it is important to recognize the difference between legitimate and fully accredited vs. illegitimate and non-accredited ones before signing up for such courses.

The Internet is known for their many different types of scams. To ensure that you don't waste your time or money, medical assistant students should choose only institutions that have full accreditation!

In closing, one final word of caution: training programs, especially those offered on the Internet, that use words such as

approved, accredited, accreditation pending, authorized, chartered, empowered, licensed, recognized, registered, or any other profound sounding designation are not always legitimately accredited. Be aware of these common phrases!


Advanced Medical Assistant of America - Copyright © 2004 Danni R. - All rights reserved. Article reprints and syndication to selected web sites upon request. Article must be complete and must include all contact information.

About the author:

Danni R. is a certified medical assistant through the AAMA and NHA, and MA Instructor at well known vocational training institutions and online. Her background is a unique blend of healthcare sciences and freelance web design and graphic arts, which makes her the ideal author for medical assisting articles and web sites. It is this fusion of contrasting disciplines that makes her work so successful on the Internet! You may also visit her web sites at Advanced Medical Assistant of America: http://www.certmedassistant.comand Medical Assistant Net at http://www.medicalassistant.netto get better acquainted with her work!

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