How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Hoover Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hoover AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Hoover AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose 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 Programs
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Hoover AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Hoover AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Hoover AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Hoover AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Hoover AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, 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. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Hoover AL area medical providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Hoover healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Hoover AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Hoover AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Hoover AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Hoover AL.