How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Athens Alabama
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Athens AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the type of credentials and training that are available.
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Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Athens AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Athens AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for those 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 to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Athens AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Athens AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Athens AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Athens AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Athens healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Athens AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Athens Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Athens Alabama.