How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Anniston Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anniston AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Anniston AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Anniston AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Anniston AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Anniston AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Anniston AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Anniston AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Anniston AL area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Anniston medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anniston AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have 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 issues.
Enroll in the Right Anniston Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anniston Alabama.