One of the great aspects of choosing a career in the medical field is that there are so many different career paths to choose from. However, with so many schools out there offering programs in the Allied Health field, choosing the right school can be a daunting task. Here are some things you should know when choosing a school:
- Check the school’s accreditation. Many Allied Health Programs do not require a degree, such as Medical Assisting. This can be a great advantage as it means a student can start their career much sooner than if they were enrolling in a traditional degree program. What is important to know is that many Allied Health careers, such as Medical Assisting, do not require a professional certification to work in the field. However, most employers prefer to hire staff that is credentialed. That is where a school’s accreditation comes in to play. Most credentialing bodies such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) which credentials Medical Assistants, require that the student has completed a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs(CAAHEP), or a program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) in order to obtain a professional certification. Both of these organizations provide lists of accredited schools on their websites.
- Find out what type of credential is required for your Allied Health career track. As mentioned above, many Allied Health careers do not require a credential to work, but most employers prefer their staff to have the appropriate credentials to ensure that their staff is properly educated in their respective fields. Be sure to research the Allied Health career that you are interested in, then find out what type of credentials are needed and what is required to obtain them. In addition, make sure the school you are interested in attending meets that criteria so that you can obtain the credential upon graduating.
- Go to the school in person. This may seem obvious, but if you are not in a program offered online, it is important to go to the school and see what it is like. Making an appointment in advance to visit the school is also recommended to ensure that there is someone available to give you a tour and take the time to answer all of your questions. Be sure to jot down some questions in advance and bring them with you so that you can make the most out of your visit. Also, if possible, try to talk to some students and see what they have to say about the school. Even if your program is online, are there representatives in the area that you can talk to in person? Does the program have a brick-and-mortar location in your area? It might be worth checking out.
- Think about your long term goals. Do you want a program that offers a degree? Do you want to start your career sooner, but plan to go on to a degree program later? These are important things to consider when starting an Allied Health program. As mentioned, many Allied Health careers do not require degrees. Therefore, many programs only offer certificates. If you plan on obtaining a degree in the future, it is important to find out if your Allied Health program’s credits will transfer to other schools or can be applied to other degree-offering programs. Many community colleges offer Allied Health programs. This can be a good option if you plan on continuing to a degree program, whether it be an Associate’s or Bachelor’s, since many community college credits can be transferred. Also, many Allied Health school credits can be transferred to the American Council on Education which can then be transferred for college credit at certain colleges.
- Take your time and think it over. The school recruiters can be a bit eager to get you to sign up right away. The important thing to remember is that this is your future and that if the school truly offers a good program, then it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Take the time to compare schools and consider the length of the programs, the cost, and how reputable the schools are. Most Allied Health certificate programs have several start dates throughout the year, so there is no rush.
- A little research goes a long way. Take the time to research your intended career including growth potential, income level, and the physical demands of the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides this information on their website. Also, go to a job search website such as Indeed.com and look up your intended career. This can give you an idea of what employers are looking for in their potential employees. The more you know about what will be expected of you in your Allied Health career, the more you will know about what to expect out of your Allied Health School.
Finding the right school that will help you achieve your goals may take a bit of time, patience, and research, but it will be worth all of the effort to ensure that you get the most out of your education and career in Allied Health.