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How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama CMA carrying patient filesOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Northport AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many future students start by checking out 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 critical issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Job of a Medical Assistant

Northport Alabama medical assistant greeting man on crutches

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Northport AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

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

Medical Assistant Courses

Northport Alabama medical assistant working with senior patient in assisted living facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Northport AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring 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, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Northport AL medical employers just 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty 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.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Northport Alabama young female taking online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Northport AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Northport AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you select 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Northport AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Northport AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Northport health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Northport 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 a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator 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 teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Northport AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might 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 will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

How to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Northport

Enroll in the Right Northport Medical Assistant Course

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Northport Alabama.




 

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