How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes 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 factors as well. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Florence AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 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 training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Florence AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Florence AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must 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 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 potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Florence AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alabama schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Florence AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Florence health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school 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 positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention 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 teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, 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 Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.