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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Athens Alabama

Athens Alabama CMA holding patient filesNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Athens AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

Athens Alabama medical assistant greeting patient using crutches

Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Athens outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.

Medical Assistant Courses

Athens Alabama medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Athens AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics 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 provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Athens AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to sit 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 offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Athens Alabama young woman taking online medical assistant classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Athens AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Athens AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Athens AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Athens AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Athens medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small 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 convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may 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.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Athens

Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant School

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Athens Alabama.




 

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