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Become a Medical Assistant East Florence AL 35630

How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA School near East Florence Alabama

East Florence AL medical assistant with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" 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 available.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

East Florence AL CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular 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

East Florence AL medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to many other medical practitioners, 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 prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

East Florence Alabama woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Alabama students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in East Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible 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 possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to East Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential East Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials 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 get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with East Florence AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the East Florence health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Enroll in the Best East Florence AL Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.