How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to 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 offered.
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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Florence AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Florence AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain 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 general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred 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 choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Florence AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Florence AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in 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 just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Florence AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Florence healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Florence Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Florence Alabama.