How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Florence Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of 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 basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 typically 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior 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 classes. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Florence AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Florence AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Florence AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Florence AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate 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 earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Florence AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Florence health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit 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 conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Florence AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.