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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama CMA carrying patient filesOnce you have decided 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 appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Dothan Alabama medical assistant greeting man on crutches

If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Dothan AL clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.

Medical Assistant Programs

Dothan Alabama medical assistant working with senior man in assisted living facilityIn contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Dothan AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Dothan Alabama young female attending online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Dothan AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Dothan AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. First, 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 must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Dothan AL area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Dothan medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer 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 graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Train to Be a Medical Assistant in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to 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.




 

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