How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School Near Trussville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Trussville AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several 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 function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Trussville AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities 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 tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Trussville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical 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 component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Trussville AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Trussville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Trussville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you select 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 plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Trussville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Trussville AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Trussville medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Trussville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Trussville AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Trussville Medical Assistant School
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Trussville Alabama.