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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School Program Near Dothan Alabama

Dothan Alabama medical assistant carrying patient filesOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 issues also. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

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The Role of Medical Assistants

Dothan Alabama CMA holding door for man using crutches

Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Dothan outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Dothan Alabama medical assistant reading to senior man in skilled nursing facilityIn contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required 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 are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Dothan Alabama young woman taking online medical assistant coursesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Dothan AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students restrict 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 several additional factors that you should examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design 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 colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just 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 avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Dothan healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

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 prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have 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 more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

How to Become a CMA in Dothan

Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Course

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.




 

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