How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mobile AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students start by researching 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 important factors as well. You may want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Mobile AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers 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 practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Mobile AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Alabama students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Mobile AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Mobile AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Mobile AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Mobile AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring 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 about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Mobile AL area medical providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Mobile health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm 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 program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Mobile AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal 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 need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.