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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama CMA carrying patient recordsNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Northport AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in 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 cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Role of a Medical Assistant

Northport Alabama medical assistant holding door for man on crutches

Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Northport outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.

Medical Assistant Courses

Northport Alabama medical assistant reading to senior patient in nursing homeIn contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Northport AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical 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 routinely 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Northport AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Northport Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Northport AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, 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 begin the procedure of comparing 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 Northport AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Northport AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask 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 school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

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

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Northport AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Train to Be a Medical Assistant in Northport

Enroll in the Right Northport Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Northport Alabama.




 

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