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How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama CMA holding patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Northport AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, 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 talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Function of a Medical Assistant

Northport Alabama medical assistant greeting man on crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Northport 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 Education

Northport Alabama CMA working with senior patient in nursing homeCompared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Northport AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 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 normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option 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 comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Northport AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Northport Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Northport AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Northport AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Northport AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools 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 choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Northport AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Northport healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Northport 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Become a Medical Assistant in Northport

Enroll in the Right Northport Medical Assistant School

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Northport Alabama.




 

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