How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Auburn Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Auburn AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? A number of future students begin by checking out 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Auburn AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Education
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Auburn AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Auburn AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Auburn AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Auburn AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Auburn AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Auburn AL area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Auburn healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools 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 high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Auburn AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Auburn AL Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.