How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Anniston Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anniston AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 training and credentials that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Anniston AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated 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 program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Anniston AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps 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 graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Anniston AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Anniston AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often 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 college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare 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 lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Anniston AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Anniston medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Anniston 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select provides 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 available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Anniston Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering 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, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Anniston Alabama.