How to Enroll In the Best CMA School Program near Dothan Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most future students start by researching 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line 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 assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Dothan AL, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you want to address them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Dothan AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions 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 facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties 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 rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Training Courses
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many 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 basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Dothan AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Dothan AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Dothan healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare 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 indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Dothan AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal 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 need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.