How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Mountain Brook Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mountain Brook AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on 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 evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Mountain Brook AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Training Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Mountain Brook AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Mountain Brook AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good 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 earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Mountain Brook AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Mountain Brook AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Mountain Brook AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Mountain Brook AL area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Mountain Brook healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Mountain Brook AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mountain Brook AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Mountain Brook Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days 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 a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mountain Brook Alabama.