How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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 type of training and credentials that are available.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Montgomery AL, it's important to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should ready several approaches about how you want to answer them. Since there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain 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
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many 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 essentially two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way 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 created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community 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 often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Montgomery AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply 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 as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Montgomery AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Montgomery AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Montgomery healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Montgomery AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether 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 must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.