How to Pick the Right CMA School Program near Dothan Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs 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 need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job 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 facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the 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 earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically 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 method of receiving your education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Dothan AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 acknowledged 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 examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Dothan AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting 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, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Alabama schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Dothan health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm 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 higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Dothan AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Dothan AL Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection 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 especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.