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How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama medical assistant holding patient chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Athens AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

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The Role of Medical Assistants

Athens Alabama medical assistant greeting man on crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Athens 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

Athens Alabama medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Athens AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Athens 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 highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Athens Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Athens AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must 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 selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Athens AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Athens AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges 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 colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Athens AL area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Athens health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Athens AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Athens AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

How to Become a CMA in Athens

Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Athens Alabama.




 

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