How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School Near Hueytown Alabama
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hueytown AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Hueytown AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Hueytown AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Hueytown AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work 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. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Hueytown AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Hueytown AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Hueytown AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring 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 one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Hueytown AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Hueytown medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Hueytown AL area and ask 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hueytown AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Hueytown Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care 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 such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Hueytown Alabama.