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Become a Medical Assistant East Florence AL 35630

How to Pick an Accredited CMA Course near East Florence Alabama

East Florence AL medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near East Florence AL, it's important to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.

The Function of Medical Assistants

East Florence AL CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions 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 tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

East Florence AL medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of East Florence AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, some 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential East Florence 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) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

East Florence AL student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in East Florence AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to East Florence AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following 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 College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective East Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with East Florence AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the East Florence healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the East Florence 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 healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near East Florence AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right East Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to 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 discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend 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 online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.