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How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Near Decatur Alabama

Decatur Alabama CMA holding patient recordsNow that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Role of Medical Assistants

Decatur Alabama CMA holding door for man using crutches

A Medical Assistant is a highly important and varied position within the Alabama healthcare field. Broadly speaking, a Medical Assistant is responsible for working alongside Decatur physicians and nurses to provide support in administrative and clinical duties. In smaller practices, Medical Assistants will typically be involved in both administrative and clinical work. While in larger practices, Medical Assistants will often be devoted to one area or another and be highly specialized in their individual duties. Whatever role a Medial Assistant plays, it is vital to the overall organization and central to timely and appropriate care of patients.

Medical Assistant Courses

Decatur Alabama medical assistant working with senior man in nursing homeUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Decatur AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often 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 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Decatur AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Decatur Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Decatur AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Decatur AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Decatur AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Decatur AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Decatur medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Decatur AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Decatur AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Become a Medical Assistant in Decatur

Enroll in the Right Decatur Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Decatur Alabama.




 

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