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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Auburn Alabama

Auburn Alabama CMA carrying patient filesOnce you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into some 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 assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each 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 offered.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

Auburn Alabama medical assistant greeting patient using crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Auburn AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.

Medical Assistant Education

Auburn Alabama medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeCompared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Auburn AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational 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 often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Auburn AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Auburn Alabama young female attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Auburn AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Auburn AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, 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 Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Auburn AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Auburn health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Auburn AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend 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 conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Train to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Auburn

Enroll in the Right Auburn Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before 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 addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Auburn Alabama.




 

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