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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Calera Alabama

Calera Alabama medical assistant carrying patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Calera AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to look into a few 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 examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Calera Alabama CMA holding door for man on crutches

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Calera AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Calera Alabama medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Calera AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Calera AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Calera Alabama young female taking online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Calera AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Calera 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 need to explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Calera AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, 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 programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Calera AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Calera healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Calera AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Calera AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

How to Become a CMA in Calera

Enroll in the Right Calera Medical Assistant Course

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure 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 exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Calera Alabama.




 

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