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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama CMA holding patient chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

Dothan Alabama CMA greeting patient on crutches

The most versatile health professional in any Alabama healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Dothan medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Dothan Alabama CMA working with senior man in assisted living facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Dothan AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably 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 examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Dothan Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Dothan AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Dothan AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college 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 plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered 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 college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means 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 Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Dothan medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Train to Be a Medical Assistant in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant School

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, 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 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.




 

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