How to Select the Right CMA Training Program near Auburn Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting 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.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Auburn AL, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should organize some approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Auburn AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, 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 (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive 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 component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 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 individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Auburn AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals 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 solution for Alabama students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Auburn AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Auburn AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Auburn AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Auburn AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Auburn medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Auburn AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all 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.
Choose the Best Auburn AL Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if 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 obtain 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 selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.