How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Jacksonville Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jacksonville 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 subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Jacksonville outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Jacksonville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, 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 typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Jacksonville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Jacksonville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Jacksonville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Jacksonville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn 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. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Jacksonville AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Jacksonville health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Jacksonville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms 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 Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Jacksonville Alabama.