Home >> Alabama >> Huntsville >> Medical Assistant Schools Near Me


Become a Medical Assistant Huntsville AL 35613

How to Find the Right CMA Program near Huntsville Alabama

Huntsville AL medical assistant with medical chartNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Huntsville AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Huntsville AL CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Huntsville AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses

Huntsville AL medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesIn contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Huntsville AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Huntsville AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected 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 have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Huntsville AL student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Huntsville AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Huntsville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you select is accredited. First, 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 must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Huntsville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn 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 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 compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get 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 obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools offer 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 establish relationships within the Huntsville health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Huntsville AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Huntsville AL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, 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 Huntsville AL Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Huntsville AL.