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Become a Medical Assistant Hoover AL 35022

How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program near Hoover Alabama

Hoover AL CMA with medical chartOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hoover AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 issues also. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Hoover AL medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Hoover AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect 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 Education

Hoover AL CMA opening door for patient on crutchesIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Hoover AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring 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.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Hoover AL woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Hoover AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Hoover AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Hoover AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Hoover AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school'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. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Hoover AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Hoover medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Hoover AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher 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 large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Right Hoover AL Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Hoover AL.