How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Huntsville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Huntsville AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences 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 factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Huntsville AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Huntsville 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 essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine 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 normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with 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 requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Huntsville AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Huntsville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Huntsville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Huntsville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Huntsville AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Huntsville medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Huntsville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Huntsville AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Huntsville Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Huntsville Alabama.