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Become a Medical Assistant Dothan AL 36301

How to Select the Right CMA Program near Dothan Alabama

Dothan AL CMA holding patient chartOnce 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 choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Dothan AL medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Dothan AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer 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 Courses

Dothan AL CMA opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Dothan Alabama woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to attend 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 degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Dothan AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Dothan AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want 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 begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Dothan AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Dothan AL employers will not employ 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 schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer 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 build relationships within the Dothan medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain 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 find out what their placement rate is. If a college 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 indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Dothan AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Enroll in the Best Dothan AL Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose 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 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.