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How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School Near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville Alabama medical assistant carrying patient chartOnce you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Huntsville AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most future students start 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 critical factors also. You might want to look into 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 finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Role of a Medical Assistant

Huntsville Alabama medical assistant holding door for patient on crutches

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Huntsville AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Huntsville Alabama CMA reading to senior man in nursing homeIn contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Huntsville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Huntsville AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty 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 Classes

Huntsville Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Huntsville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Huntsville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Huntsville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get 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 acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Huntsville AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Huntsville healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates 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 find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Become a CMA in Huntsville

Enroll in the Right Huntsville Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Huntsville Alabama.




 

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