How to Select an Accredited CMA Course near Hoover Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hoover AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Hoover AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties 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
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Hoover AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical 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 practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Hoover AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Hoover AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Hoover AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college 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. Second, if you plan on becoming 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Hoover 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 colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn 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 example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Hoover AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Hoover healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating 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 graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Hoover AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Hoover AL.