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Become a Medical Assistant Decatur AL 35601

How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur AL medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Decatur AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by checking out 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects 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 short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Decatur AL, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must organize some approaches about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Decatur AL medical assistant taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Decatur AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses

Decatur AL CMA welcoming patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Decatur AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical 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.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Decatur AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Decatur AL woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Decatur AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Decatur AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, 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, a number of 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? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Decatur AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Decatur medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Decatur AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also 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 emergencies.

Choose the Right Decatur AL Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if 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 need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges 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 sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as 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 on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Decatur AL.