How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Prattville Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 critical issues also. You may choose to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Prattville AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Prattville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 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 two year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Prattville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps 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, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Prattville AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between 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 Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Prattville health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify 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 students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prattville Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must 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 upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prattville Alabama.