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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School Near Opelika Alabama

Opelika Alabama medical assistant carrying patient filesOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Opelika AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable 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 research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Role of a Medical Assistant

Opelika Alabama CMA greeting man on crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Opelika AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing 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 physicians
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Opelika Alabama medical assistant working with senior patient in nursing homeCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Opelika 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 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as 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 element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Opelika AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Opelika Alabama young female attending online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have 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 working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Opelika AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from 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, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Opelika AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating 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 ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To start 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 need to enroll in 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Opelika AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need 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 methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Opelika AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Opelika health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Opelika AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication 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 furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Become a Medical Assistant in Opelika

Enroll in the Right Opelika Medical Assistant Course

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Opelika Alabama.




 

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