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How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Jacksonville Alabama

Jacksonville Alabama medical assistant holding patient filesNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Jacksonville AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may decide to research a few 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 complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

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The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Jacksonville Alabama medical assistant greeting patient using crutches

The most versatile health professional in any Alabama healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Jacksonville medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.

Medical Assistant Training

Jacksonville Alabama CMA working with senior man in nursing homeUnlike many 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational 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 involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Jacksonville AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected 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 be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Jacksonville Alabama young female taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Jacksonville AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Jacksonville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered 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 college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Jacksonville AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Jacksonville health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Jacksonville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Train to Be a Medical Assistant in Jacksonville

Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Medical Assistant College

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Jacksonville Alabama.




 

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