How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want 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 college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Montgomery AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Montgomery AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA 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 as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend 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 earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Montgomery AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Montgomery medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery 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 all internships or practical training that will 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 responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Medical Assistant Course
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before 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 agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Montgomery Alabama.