Home >> Alabama >> Gadsden >> Medical Assistant Courses


Become a Medical Assistant Gadsden AL 35901

How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Gadsden Alabama

Gadsden AL CMA with patient chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Gadsden AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Gadsden AL, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some strategies about how you want to answer them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Gadsden AL medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Gadsden AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain 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

Gadsden AL medical assistant welcoming patientCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Gadsden 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 two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Gadsden AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Gadsden AL woman attending medical assistant online programThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended 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 extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Gadsden AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Gadsden AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Gadsden AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn 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 of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Gadsden AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Gadsden healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Gadsden AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to see 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 school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Gadsden AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Gadsden AL Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend 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 best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Gadsden AL.