How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Jacksonville Alabama
Once 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 school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 critical issues as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Jacksonville AL medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of 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 generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Jacksonville AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Jacksonville AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Jacksonville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, 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 Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is 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 Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Jacksonville AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Jacksonville medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Jacksonville AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may 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, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Jacksonville Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the right 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 life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Jacksonville Alabama.