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How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Troy Alabama

Troy Alabama CMA carrying patient filesOnce you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Troy AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college 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 all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

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The Job of Medical Assistants

Troy Alabama medical assistant holding door for man using crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Troy AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Troy Alabama CMA reading to senior patient in nursing homeUnlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Troy AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Troy AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 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 as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Troy Alabama young female taking online medical assistant classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Troy AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Troy AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, 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 Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Troy AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Troy medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Troy AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Troy AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

How to Be a CMA in Troy

Enroll in the Right Troy Medical Assistant Course

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Troy Alabama.




 

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