How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Selma Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Selma AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
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, Selma 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
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Selma AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts 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 often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Selma AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Selma AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating 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. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Selma AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Selma AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask 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 assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Selma AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Selma medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Selma AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, 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 jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, 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 get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Selma AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Selma Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Selma Alabama.