How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant School Program Near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of a Medical Assistant
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 Phenix City 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Phenix City AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 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 mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Phenix City AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option 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 alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from 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, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to 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 great reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 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 last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Phenix City 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 colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Phenix City health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe 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 school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Phenix City Medical Assistant School
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phenix City Alabama.