How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA Training Program near Florence Alabama
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Florence AL, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must ready some approaches about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Programs
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Florence AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Florence AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed 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 approach to getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Florence AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially 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, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Florence AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Florence healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection 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 a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.