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Become a Medical Assistant Dothan AL 36301

How to Select the Best CMA Degree Program near Dothan Alabama

Dothan AL CMA with medical chartNow that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Be a CMA?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Dothan AL, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Job of Medical Assistants

Dothan AL CMA taking vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Dothan AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate 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 providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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 Programs

Dothan AL CMA greeting patientIn contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Dothan 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 offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. 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 typically two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical 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 clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Dothan AL student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended 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 cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Dothan AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Dothan AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Dothan AL area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Dothan healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Right Dothan AL Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school 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 life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info 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 on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.