How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Muscle Shoals AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Muscle Shoals 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 Training Programs
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Muscle Shoals AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two 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 general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Muscle Shoals AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Muscle Shoals AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Muscle Shoals AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to look at when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Muscle Shoals AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn 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 naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school'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 low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Muscle Shoals AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Muscle Shoals medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Muscle Shoals AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Muscle Shoals Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether 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 get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Muscle Shoals Alabama.