How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Mobile Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mobile AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Mobile AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical 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 filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Mobile AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four 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 mandate, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Mobile AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit 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 extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Mobile AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Mobile AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Mobile AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused 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 college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Mobile AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Mobile health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Mobile AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small 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 convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Mobile AL Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper 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 must get the right info on available programs before making your decision. 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 addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.