How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near East Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the East Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical 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 often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have 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 earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in East Florence AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible East Florence AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to East Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective East Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with East Florence AL area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the East Florence medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings 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 internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best East Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.