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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

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The Function of Medical Assistants

Dothan Alabama CMA greeting man using crutches

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Dothan AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Dothan Alabama medical assistant working with senior man in nursing homeCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Dothan AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as trade 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 medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Dothan AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Dothan Alabama young female attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Dothan AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Dothan AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you choose 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 intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Dothan AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Dothan AL area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Dothan healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Dothan 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 an excellent reputation within the medical 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 may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just 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 important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Become a CMA in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days 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 a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.




 

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