How to Choose the Best CMA Training Program near Auburn Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many 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 location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Auburn AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential 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 specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Training Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Auburn AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Auburn AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Auburn AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Auburn AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors 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 all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. First, 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Auburn AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Auburn AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Auburn medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical 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 might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Auburn AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.