How to Pick an Accredited CMA Training Program near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mobile AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Mobile AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Mobile AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Mobile AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Mobile 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 getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Mobile AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Mobile AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn 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. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Mobile AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Mobile health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Mobile AL Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.