How to Find an Accredited CMA Degree Program near Hoover Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Hoover AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line 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 reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Hoover AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors 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 verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many 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 generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit 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, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Hoover AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Hoover AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of 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 exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Hoover AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible 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 last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Hoover AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out 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 instance, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate 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 decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Hoover AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop 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 Service Furnished? Finding that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Hoover AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Hoover AL Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Hoover AL.