How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Athens AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective 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 location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to research a few 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 schools you are examining. 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 before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The most versatile health professional in any Alabama healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Athens medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Athens AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical 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 clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Athens AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Athens AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Athens AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Athens AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Athens AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Athens health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large 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 offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college 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 practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Athens Alabama.