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Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Alabama health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Alabama medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students 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 solution for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Alabama medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.