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Become a Medical Assistant Madison AL 35756

How to Enroll In the Right CMA Training Program near Madison Alabama

Madison AL medical assistant with medical chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Madison AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Madison AL CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Madison AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
  • Providing basic support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform 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 offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Education

Madison AL medical assistant opening door for patientUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Madison AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving 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 Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Madison AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Madison Alabama student attending medical assistant classes onlineThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Madison AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Madison AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Madison AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program'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. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Madison AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Madison health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Madison 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 health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, make sure that those times are offered. 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, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Right Madison AL Medical Assistant Training

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Madison AL.