Home >> Alabama >> Decatur >> Medical Assistant Classes


Become a Medical Assistant Decatur AL 35601

How to Choose the Right CMA Program near Decatur Alabama

Decatur AL CMA holding patient chartNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Decatur AL, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you possess 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 standard interview questions, so you need to ready a number of ideas about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Decatur AL CMA taking vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Decatur AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties 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
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Decatur AL medical assistant greeting patientUnlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Decatur AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Decatur AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Decatur Alabama woman attending medical assistant online programThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Decatur AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Decatur AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Decatur AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Decatur AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Decatur health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Decatur AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might 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 likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Decatur AL, make certain 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 clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Decatur AL Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective 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 right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Decatur AL.