How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Prattville Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 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 Prattville 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 Education
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Prattville 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 generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Prattville AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible 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 cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be carried out in Prattville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prattville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prattville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep 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 planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Prattville AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Prattville medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance 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 higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller 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 couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant Training
It's important 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 objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.