How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Near Athens Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Athens AL, it's time to select 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 ideal one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Athens AL clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Athens 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 generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Athens AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Athens AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Athens AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Athens AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want 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 one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Athens AL area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Athens health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Athens AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Athens Alabama.