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Become a Medical Assistant Dothan AL 36301

How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Dothan Alabama

Dothan AL CMA holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Dothan AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Become a CMA?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Dothan AL, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you want 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 formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Dothan AL medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Dothan AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Dothan AL medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Dothan AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Dothan AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Dothan Alabama student attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. But 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 healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at 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, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Dothan AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often 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 School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to 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 want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Dothan AL area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Dothan medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Dothan AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you choose provides 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Dothan AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right 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 lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.