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Become a Medical Assistant Auburn AL 36801

How to Choose the Right CMA Program near Auburn Alabama

Auburn AL CMA holding medical chartNow that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Job of Medical Assistants

Auburn AL CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Auburn AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Education

Auburn AL CMA welcoming patientUnlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Auburn 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 essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Auburn AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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 apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Colleges

Auburn AL woman attending medical assistant online programThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Auburn AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Auburn AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Auburn AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Auburn AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Auburn health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Auburn AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Auburn AL Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college 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 pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.