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How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Near Hoover Alabama

Hoover Alabama CMA holding patient recordsNow that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hoover AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 important issues also. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

Hoover Alabama medical assistant holding door for patient using crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Hoover AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Hoover Alabama medical assistant working with senior patient in skilled nursing facilityCompared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Hoover AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Hoover AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Hoover Alabama young female taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Hoover AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Hoover 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 evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Hoover AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Hoover AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Hoover health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Hoover AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hoover AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

How to Be a CMA in Hoover

Enroll in the Right Hoover Medical Assistant College

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin 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 before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Hoover Alabama.




 

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