How to Find an Accredited CMA Course near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field 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 schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Mobile AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can 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 health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Mobile AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine 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 typically 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Mobile AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Mobile AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Mobile AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, 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 some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Mobile AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Mobile AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Mobile medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Mobile AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Mobile AL Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right 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 lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.