How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Duties of a Medical Assistant
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 Montgomery 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Montgomery AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Montgomery AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Montgomery AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Montgomery AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Montgomery health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Medical Assistant Classes
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Montgomery Alabama.