How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Athens Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of 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 appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" 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 Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Athens AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn 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 essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Athens AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible 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, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Athens AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Athens AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about 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 training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Athens AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Athens AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Athens health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Athens AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience 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 college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Athens AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Athens Alabama.