How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alexander City AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Alexander City AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Alexander City AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Alexander City AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Alexander City AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Alexander City AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Alexander City AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Alexander City AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alexander City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Alexander City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alexander City AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Alexander City Medical Assistant College
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alexander City Alabama.