How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field 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 go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the type of credentials and training that are available.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 have earned certification. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Birmingham AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option 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 choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Birmingham AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Birmingham AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Birmingham AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Birmingham AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Birmingham healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask 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 Birmingham Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate 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 upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Birmingham Alabama.