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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program Near Saraland Alabama

Saraland Alabama medical assistant carrying patient filesNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Saraland AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by checking out 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, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Saraland Alabama CMA holding door for patient on crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Saraland AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Saraland Alabama medical assistant reading to senior man in assisted living facilityUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Saraland AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational 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 usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Saraland AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Saraland Alabama young woman attending online medical assistant classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Saraland AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Saraland AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Saraland AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Saraland AL area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Saraland medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Saraland AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program 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 large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during 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 few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Saraland AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Train to Be a CMA in Saraland

Enroll in the Right Saraland Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Saraland Alabama.




 

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