How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by checking out 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Phenix City AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Phenix City AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Phenix City AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received 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 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 CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Phenix City AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Phenix City AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive 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 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Phenix City AL employers will not employ 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 create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting 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, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Phenix City AL area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Phenix City health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Phenix City Medical Assistant College
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Phenix City Alabama.