How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Florence Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Florence AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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
Unlike 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 prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Florence AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Florence AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Florence AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Florence AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused 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 one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Florence AL area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help 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 Service Provided? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Florence AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program 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 contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program 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 available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Florence AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical 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 prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Florence AL.