How to Enroll In the Right CMA Degree Program near Florence Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Florence AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided 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 general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Florence AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Florence AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Florence AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must 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 instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Florence AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Florence health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Florence AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school 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 practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify 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 exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.