How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near East Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 important issues as well. 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 complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the East Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of 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 basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential East Florence AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in East Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to East Florence AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start 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 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. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential East Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop 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 looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, 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 methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally 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, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with East Florence AL area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the East Florence health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right East Florence Medical Assistant School
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type 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 supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in East Florence Alabama.