How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the East Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many East Florence AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible East Florence AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available 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 accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals 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 solution for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in East Florence AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to East Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential East Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with East Florence AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the East Florence healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right East Florence Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in East Florence Alabama.