How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Florence Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of 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 provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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.
Why Train to Become a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Florence AL, it's important to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must ready a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Given that there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their role is ensure that the Florence AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular 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 Training
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Florence AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Florence AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Florence AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 approved organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the 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 schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Florence AL area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Florence medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller 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 few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Florence AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Florence AL Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.