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How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama CMA holding patient chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting 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 Duties of Medical Assistants

Jacksonville Alabama medical assistant greeting man using crutches

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Jacksonville AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Jacksonville Alabama CMA reading to senior patient in nursing homeCompared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Jacksonville AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Jacksonville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Jacksonville Alabama young woman taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the 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 working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Jacksonville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Jacksonville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Jacksonville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Jacksonville AL area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Jacksonville health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Getting that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide 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 affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

How to Be a Medical Assistant in Jacksonville

Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Medical Assistant Course

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Jacksonville Alabama.




 

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