How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Huntsville AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type 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, Huntsville 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 Training
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Huntsville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Huntsville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative 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 alternative for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as 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 often be performed in Huntsville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want 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 begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Huntsville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 eligible 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 finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Huntsville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting 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 receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Huntsville AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Huntsville health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Huntsville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small 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 possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville Medical Assistant Classes
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days 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 especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Huntsville Alabama.