How to Choose the Right CMA Program near Hoover Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hoover AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper 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 start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Hoover AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Hoover AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Hoover AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good 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 choice for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Hoover AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Hoover AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Hoover AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Hoover AL area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Hoover health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Hoover AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Hoover AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare 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 so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Hoover AL.