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Become a Medical Assistant Madison AL 35756

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Madison Alabama

Madison AL CMA with patient chartNow that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Madison AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 issues also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

Madison AL CMA measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Madison AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Supplying general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training

Madison AL CMA greeting patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Madison AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community 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 classes. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Madison AL woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Madison AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Madison AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Madison AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To start with, 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 need to 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 exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Madison AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Alabama colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Madison AL area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Madison health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Madison AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms 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 positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Madison AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Best Madison AL Medical Assistant Program

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Madison AL.