How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training Program Near Prattville Alabama
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Prattville AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting 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
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, 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 school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Prattville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Prattville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Prattville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is 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 Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop 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 Support Offered? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide 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 an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator 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 offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant School
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.