How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Program near East Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many 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 specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many 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 basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential East Florence AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good option for students 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 attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in East Florence AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to East Florence AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential East Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with East Florence AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the East Florence health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near East Florence AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right East Florence AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many 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 pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.