How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Dothan Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting 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 Duties of a Medical Assistant
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Dothan 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 Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 normally 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive 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 element involving 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Dothan AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Dothan AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Dothan AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Dothan AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Dothan health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, 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 Classrooms? Class size might be an indication 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 increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere 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 college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Classes
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish 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 must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.