How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
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, Montgomery 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery 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 available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 normally 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Montgomery AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for individuals who may 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 to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Montgomery AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Montgomery AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Montgomery AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, 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 ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Montgomery AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Montgomery healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing 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, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided 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 choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Montgomery Alabama.