How to Pick the Best CMA School Program near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean 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 as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Montgomery AL, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare some ideas about how you would like to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, 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 two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Montgomery AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Montgomery AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine 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 comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Montgomery AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Montgomery medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Montgomery 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction 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 instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Montgomery AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.