How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Near Athens Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Athens AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to many 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 have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Athens AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 examination, 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 discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Athens AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Athens AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Athens AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School'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 must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Athens AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Athens health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Athens AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant College
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges 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, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 supplied so you can 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.