How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mobile AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included several 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 credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Mobile AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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 Courses
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Mobile AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Mobile AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Mobile AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start 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 at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Mobile AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Mobile AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools 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 select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Mobile AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Mobile health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Mobile AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mobile AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any 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 work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Mobile Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mobile Alabama.