How to Enroll In an Accredited CMA School near Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect 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 Programs
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Florence AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational 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 usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Florence AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating 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 just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Florence AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will 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 issues.
Enroll in the Best Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.