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Become a Medical Assistant Decatur AL 35601

How to Enroll In the Right CMA Course near Decatur Alabama

Decatur AL medical assistant with medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the schools 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Decatur AL CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Decatur AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available 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 Education

Decatur AL CMA greeting patientUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Decatur AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some 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 option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Decatur Alabama woman attending medical assistant online programThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Decatur AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

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. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Decatur AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Decatur AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either 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 available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Decatur AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Decatur AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Decatur healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Decatur AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Right Decatur AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Decatur AL.