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How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Near Muscle Shoals Alabama

Muscle Shoals Alabama CMA holding patient filesNow that you have decided to join the gratifying 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 right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished 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 role 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 Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Muscle Shoals Alabama medical assistant holding door for man using crutches

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Muscle Shoals AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Muscle Shoals Alabama medical assistant reading to senior patient in skilled nursing facilityIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Muscle Shoals AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Muscle Shoals AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Muscle Shoals Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available 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 solution 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. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Muscle Shoals AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools 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 should examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Muscle Shoals AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive 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 schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Muscle Shoals AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Muscle Shoals health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Muscle Shoals AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

How to Be a CMA in Muscle Shoals

Enroll in the Right Muscle Shoals Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Muscle Shoals Alabama.




 

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