How to Choose the Best CMA Training School near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to join 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 right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate 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 as well. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on 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 examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of East Florence AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential East Florence AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty 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 provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in East Florence AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to East Florence AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential East Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with East Florence AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the East Florence medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best East Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.