How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions 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 doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific 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 Education
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered 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 general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who may 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 working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Montgomery AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Montgomery AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Montgomery AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin 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 need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Montgomery AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Montgomery medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, 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 positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Montgomery AL Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.