How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School Near Prichard Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prichard AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Prichard AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prichard AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Prichard AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Prichard AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Prichard AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Prichard 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 schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course 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 obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prichard AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Prichard medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Prichard 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prichard AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prichard Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info 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 individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prichard Alabama.