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Become a Medical Assistant Decatur AL 35601

How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Decatur Alabama

Decatur AL medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have decided 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 proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 issues also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Decatur AL, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should organize several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Considering there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Decatur AL CMA taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Decatur AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Education

Decatur AL medical assistant greeting patientCompared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Decatur 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 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Decatur AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Decatur Alabama woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Decatur AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Decatur AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when assessing 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 final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available 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 college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Decatur AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Decatur health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Decatur AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Decatur AL Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Decatur AL.