How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Troy Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Troy AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit 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
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Troy AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Troy AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Troy AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Troy AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Troy AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Troy AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin 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 example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Troy AL area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Troy medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Troy AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Troy Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Troy Alabama.