How to Select the Best Medical Assistant School 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 choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Responsibilities 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential 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 arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate 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 discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Prattville AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure 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. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Prattville 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 exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining 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 closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Prattville health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant College
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right 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 life long career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.