How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Prattville Alabama
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Prattville AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Prattville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Prattville AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly 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, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Prattville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prattville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Prattville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Prattville healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Prattville AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.