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

Dothan Alabama CMA holding patient recordsOnce you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each 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 credentials and training that are available.

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The Function of Medical Assistants

Dothan Alabama CMA holding door for man 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

Dothan Alabama CMA working with senior man in assisted living facilityUnlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Dothan Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Dothan AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Dothan AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining 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 about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

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

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help 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 an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit 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 might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Train to Be a CMA in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate 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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