How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Florence AL medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Florence AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine 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 typically 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Florence AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Florence AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like 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 researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to 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 considerations that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Florence AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Florence medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that initial job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Florence Medical Assistant Course
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed 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 examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Florence Alabama.