How to Choose the Best CMA Course near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short 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
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Auburn AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Auburn AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative 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 to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Auburn AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Auburn AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Auburn AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Auburn AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Auburn AL area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Auburn healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Auburn AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Auburn AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Auburn AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.