How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Troy Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Troy AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Troy AL physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Troy AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few 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 alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational 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 element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Troy 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 respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Troy AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Troy AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive 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 Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Troy AL employers will not hire 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 develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Troy AL area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Troy health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Troy 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 suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere 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 working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Troy AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask 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 Troy Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Troy Alabama.