How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Prattville Alabama
Once 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 select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Prattville AL clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Prattville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Prattville AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Prattville AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Prattville health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating 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 students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical 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 Course
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, 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 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 so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.