How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Auburn AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can 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 medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Auburn 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 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered 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 general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Auburn AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit 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, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Auburn AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Auburn AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Auburn AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need 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. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Auburn AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Auburn medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Auburn AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school 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 wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Auburn Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Auburn Alabama.