How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Decatur Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all 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 credentials and training that are available.
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The Role of Medical Assistants
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 Training
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Decatur AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 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 Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Decatur AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Decatur AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 accepted 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Decatur AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select 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 one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Decatur AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Decatur healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Decatur AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Decatur AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol 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 Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 online or on-campus school, be sure 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 begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Decatur Alabama.