How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Course Near Prichard Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prichard AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Job 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 Prichard 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 Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Prichard AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive 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 element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Prichard AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks 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 Prichard AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Prichard AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Prichard AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prichard AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Prichard health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Prichard AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates 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 Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Prichard Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal 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 must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prichard Alabama.