How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near East Florence Alabama
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near East Florence AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential 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 location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the East Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of East Florence AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in East Florence AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible East Florence AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to East Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, 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 examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with East Florence AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the East Florence medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the East Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near East Florence AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right East Florence AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in East Florence AL.