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Become a Medical Assistant Auburn AL 36801

How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Auburn Alabama

Auburn AL CMA with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of 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 colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by checking out 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 very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Auburn AL, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Auburn AL medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Auburn AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Auburn AL medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Auburn AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Auburn AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Auburn AL student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Auburn AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest 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 explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you select 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Auburn AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Auburn AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Auburn health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Auburn AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere 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 to work full time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Auburn AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need 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 due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Auburn AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.