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How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama CMA holding patient recordsNow that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Troy AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. 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 talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

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The Role of a Medical Assistant

Troy Alabama CMA greeting patient on crutches

Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Alabama healthcare settings, concentrated in Troy outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.

Medical Assistant Courses

Troy Alabama CMA reading to senior patient in nursing homeUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Troy AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 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 option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Troy AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Troy Alabama young woman taking online medical assistant trainingThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Troy AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Troy AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To start 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Troy AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Troy AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Troy healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Troy AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Troy AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

How to Be a Certified Medical Assistant in Troy

Enroll in the Right Troy Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is 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 appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Troy Alabama.




 

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