How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Alexander City Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alexander City AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Alexander City outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Alexander City AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Alexander City AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Alexander City AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alexander City AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective 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? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Alexander City AL area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Alexander City health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Alexander City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Alexander City AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Alexander City Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Alexander City Alabama.