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How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama CMA holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might decide to take a look at a few 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 finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each 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 Job of Medical Assistants

Dothan Alabama medical assistant holding door for man using crutches

Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Dothan outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.

Medical Assistant Programs

Dothan Alabama medical assistant reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Dothan AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 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 normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational 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 usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Dothan Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Dothan AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type 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 process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Dothan AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive 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 Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Dothan healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will 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.

How to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if 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 so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.




 

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