How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Prattville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Prattville AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Prattville 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 basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route 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 six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Prattville AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably 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 exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Prattville AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin 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 must complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Prattville medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Prattville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.