How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Homewood Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Homewood AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Homewood AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Homewood AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices 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 generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Homewood AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Homewood AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Homewood AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Homewood AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting 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 ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Homewood AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Homewood health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Homewood AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during 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 possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college 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 program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Homewood AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, 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 may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Homewood Medical Assistant Course
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Homewood Alabama.