How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Decatur Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 important factors also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Decatur 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 Training Programs
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain 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 are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at junior and community 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 frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Decatur AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Decatur AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Decatur AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Decatur AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate 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 choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Decatur AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Decatur medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive 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 school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Decatur Medical Assistant School
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Decatur Alabama.