How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program near East Florence Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams 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 attain 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 Training
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many 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 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in East Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential East Florence AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). 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. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to East Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential East Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want 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. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select 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 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with East Florence AL area medical providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the East Florence medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide 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 graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout 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 possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right East Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.