How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Jacksonville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Jacksonville 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 Programs
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Jacksonville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain 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 extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Jacksonville AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Jacksonville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Jacksonville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Jacksonville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting 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 methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Jacksonville AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Jacksonville health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Jacksonville AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Medical Assistant Course
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering 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, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Jacksonville Alabama.