How to Find the Best CMA Degree Program near Florence Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many prospective students start 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 important issues also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices 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. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of 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 quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Florence AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Florence AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the college you choose 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 complete 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 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 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Florence AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Florence healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help 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 program has a high 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 wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Florence AL Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided 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 picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.