How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Near Scottsboro Alabama
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsboro AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential 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 location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included 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 credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Scottsboro AL medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Scottsboro AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Scottsboro AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Scottsboro AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend 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 discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Scottsboro AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Scottsboro AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Scottsboro AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Scottsboro health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Scottsboro AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Scottsboro AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Scottsboro Medical Assistant College
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if 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 need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Scottsboro Alabama.