How to Find an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Alabaster Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alabaster 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 subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Alabaster AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Alabaster AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Alabaster AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Alabaster AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alabaster AL with the lowest 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 must examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Alabaster AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program focused on 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 methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Alabaster AL area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Alabaster health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Alabaster AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alabaster AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Alabaster AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alabaster AL.