How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Near Scottsboro Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsboro AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Scottsboro AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While 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 options offered 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 Training
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Scottsboro 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 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Scottsboro 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 highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided 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 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Scottsboro AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Scottsboro AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Scottsboro AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school'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 prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Scottsboro AL area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Scottsboro health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Scottsboro AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small 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 convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Scottsboro AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Scottsboro Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Scottsboro Alabama.