How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Course near Birmingham Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Birmingham AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to research a few 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 complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Birmingham AL, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several ideas about how you would like to address them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down some concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Birmingham AL health care employers choose 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 route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Birmingham AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Birmingham AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices 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 potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Birmingham AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Birmingham 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 schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones 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 certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alabama schools you are considering 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 health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Birmingham health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Birmingham AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Birmingham AL Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision 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 an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Birmingham AL.