How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the type of credentials and training that are available.
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Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prattville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Prattville AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Prattville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at 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, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching programs. To assist 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 School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes 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, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prattville AL area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Prattville healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Prattville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant Course
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin 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 right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.