How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Mobile Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mobile AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Mobile AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular 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
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Mobile AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics 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 provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Mobile AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Mobile AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Mobile AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should look at when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Mobile AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs 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, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Mobile AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Mobile healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help 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 program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout 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 few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Mobile AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Mobile AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.