How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Birmingham AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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Medical Assistant Training
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Birmingham AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals 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 provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Birmingham AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably 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. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Birmingham AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Birmingham AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Birmingham AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, 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 shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Birmingham AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Birmingham healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Birmingham AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, 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 Birmingham Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college 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 info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don't forget 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 begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Birmingham Alabama.