How to Select the Right CMA Program near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Montgomery AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can 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 submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Montgomery AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Montgomery AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Montgomery AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select 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. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Montgomery health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must 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 personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.