How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
The Duties of Medical Assistants
A Medical Assistant is a highly important and varied position within the Alabama healthcare field. Broadly speaking, a Medical Assistant is responsible for working alongside Montgomery physicians and nurses to provide support in administrative and clinical duties. In smaller practices, Medical Assistants will typically be involved in both administrative and clinical work. While in larger practices, Medical Assistants will often be devoted to one area or another and be highly specialized in their individual duties. Whatever role a Medial Assistant plays, it is vital to the overall organization and central to timely and appropriate care of patients.
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Montgomery AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical 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 courses. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Montgomery AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected 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 be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Montgomery AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Montgomery AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, 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, many prospective Montgomery AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine 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 obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Montgomery AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Montgomery medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Montgomery Alabama.