How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Near Jacksonville Alabama
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Jacksonville AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Jacksonville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Jacksonville AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Jacksonville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Jacksonville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Jacksonville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Jacksonville AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Jacksonville medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Jacksonville AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Jacksonville Alabama.