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Become a Medical Assistant Birmingham AL 35005

How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham AL CMA holding medical chartOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare 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 approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Birmingham AL, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several strategies about how you want to respond to them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Birmingham AL medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Birmingham AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses 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:

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

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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

Birmingham AL medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesCompared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Birmingham AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two 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 normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Birmingham AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Birmingham AL student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Birmingham AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Birmingham AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Birmingham AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Birmingham AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Birmingham healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Birmingham AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Birmingham AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Birmingham AL Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get 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 on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Birmingham AL.