How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Dothan Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating 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 very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some 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 type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Dothan AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed 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 typically two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative 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 option for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Dothan AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Dothan AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Dothan AL employers will not hire 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 create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, 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 schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Dothan AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Dothan medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may 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 likely 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 program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Dothan AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.