How to Choose an Accredited CMA Course near Alabaster Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care 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 comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Alabaster AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming 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 examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Alabaster AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical 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 classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Alabaster AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. 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 attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Alabaster AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening 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 qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, 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 Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must 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 example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Alabama schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Alabaster AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Alabaster health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Alabaster AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good 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 indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Alabaster AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Alabaster AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Alabaster AL.