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How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama medical assistant holding patient chartNow that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of potential students start by evaluating 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, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Dothan Alabama CMA greeting man using crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Dothan AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Dothan Alabama CMA reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityCompared to many other medical practitioners, 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 program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Dothan AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Dothan Alabama young female attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Dothan AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Dothan AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently 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 program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine 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 of course you will need 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. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Dothan healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Become a CMA in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.




 

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