Home >> Alabama >> Huntsville >> Medical Assistant Classes


Become a Medical Assistant Huntsville AL 35613

How to Find an Accredited CMA Program near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville AL CMA with patient chartOnce you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Huntsville AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Huntsville AL, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must organize a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Huntsville AL medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is ensure that the Huntsville AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Courses

Huntsville AL medical assistant greeting patientIn contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Huntsville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as 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 practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Huntsville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify 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 as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Huntsville Alabama woman attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Huntsville AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Huntsville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Huntsville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest 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 require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Huntsville AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Huntsville healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Huntsville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Huntsville AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all 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 due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Best Huntsville AL Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Huntsville AL.