How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Florence AL, it's important to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize some ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Florence AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Florence AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the 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 working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in 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 mode of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Florence AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask 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. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Florence AL area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Florence health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment 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 working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier 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 may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Florence AL Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.