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Become a Medical Assistant Alabaster AL 35007

How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Alabaster Alabama

Alabaster AL medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Alabaster AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Alabaster AL medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Alabaster AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can 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 medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Alabaster AL medical assistant welcoming patientUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Alabaster AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Alabaster AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Alabaster AL student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option 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 option for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Alabaster AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Alabaster AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the school 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 Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school 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 last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Alabaster 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 Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Alabaster AL area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Alabaster health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges 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 affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator 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 offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Alabaster AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may 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 will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Alabaster AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alabaster AL.