How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Auburn AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals 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 filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Auburn AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to 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 often 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 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Auburn AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Auburn AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Auburn AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when evaluating programs. To assist 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 Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Auburn 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 design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out 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. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Auburn AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Auburn medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Auburn AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out 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 Auburn Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking 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 lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Auburn Alabama.