How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating 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 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 decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the East Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of East Florence AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 typically two year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade 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 element involving an internship with a local medical 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible East Florence AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered 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 offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for students who may not have the 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 pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in East Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to East Florence AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective East Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with East Florence AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the East Florence health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify 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 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 work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best East Florence AL Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. 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 examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.