How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type 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 physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered 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
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Montgomery AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Montgomery AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Montgomery AL employers will not employ 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 colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Montgomery healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Montgomery AL Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.