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How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Northport Alabama

Northport Alabama CMA holding patient filesNow that you have decided to join 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 right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Duties of Medical Assistants

Northport Alabama CMA greeting patient using crutches

A Medical Assistant is a highly important and varied position within the Alabama healthcare field. Broadly speaking, a Medical Assistant is responsible for working alongside Northport physicians and nurses to provide support in administrative and clinical duties. In smaller practices, Medical Assistants will typically be involved in both administrative and clinical work. While in larger practices, Medical Assistants will often be devoted to one area or another and be highly specialized in their individual duties. Whatever role a Medial Assistant plays, it is vital to the overall organization and central to timely and appropriate care of patients.

Medical Assistant Courses

Northport Alabama medical assistant working with senior man in skilled nursing facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many 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 generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts 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 transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Northport AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Northport Alabama young woman taking online medical assistant classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Northport AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Northport AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Northport AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on 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 ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Northport AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Northport healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some 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 high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may 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 prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

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 school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Northport AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Train to Be a CMA in Northport

Enroll in the Right Northport Medical Assistant Course

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Northport Alabama.




 

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