How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Auburn Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative 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 pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Auburn AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer 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 mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Auburn AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to technical 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 courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Auburn AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, 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 attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Auburn AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Auburn AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Auburn AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Auburn health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Auburn Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Auburn Alabama.