Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Alabama with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Alabama 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 colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine 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 want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Alabama health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in Alabama and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might 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 provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Alabama, make certain 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 clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.