How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Dothan Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying 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 appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. 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 before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the type of credentials and training that are available.
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Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most 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 would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Dothan AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Dothan AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Dothan AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select 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 closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Dothan medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide 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 students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dothan Medical Assistant Classes
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays 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 a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan Alabama.