How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Anniston Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anniston AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Anniston AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Anniston AL medical employers simply will not hire 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) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Anniston AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Anniston AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Anniston AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Anniston AL area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Anniston healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Anniston AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anniston AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Anniston Medical Assistant Program
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 goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anniston Alabama.