How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many East Florence AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one 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 usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential East Florence AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available 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 an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in East Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many 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 qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective East Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with East Florence AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the East Florence healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college 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 attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right East Florence Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in East Florence Alabama.