How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Dothan Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Dothan AL, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should organize some approaches about how you would like to address them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Dothan 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 an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Dothan AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good 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 a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue working 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 options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Dothan AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Dothan AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Dothan AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help 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 Support Offered? Getting that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Dothan AL Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to 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, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially 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 online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.