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Become a Medical Assistant Birmingham AL 35005

How to Select the Best CMA School Program near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham AL medical assistant holding patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Birmingham AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Birmingham AL, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should ready some approaches about how you want to address them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Birmingham AL medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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

Birmingham AL medical assistant welcoming patientUnlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Birmingham AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Birmingham AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Birmingham AL woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Birmingham AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Birmingham AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Birmingham 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 prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Birmingham AL area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Birmingham healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Birmingham AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment 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 to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might 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, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Birmingham AL Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many 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 select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Birmingham AL.