How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Anniston Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anniston AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes 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 factors as well. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Anniston AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Anniston 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 basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Anniston AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Anniston AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns 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 attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Anniston AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Anniston AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Anniston AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Anniston medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Anniston AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, 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 Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Anniston AL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Anniston Medical Assistant Course
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anniston Alabama.