How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Montgomery Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding 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 go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions 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. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have 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 essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 normally 2 year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred 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 an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Montgomery AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Montgomery AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Montgomery AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Alabama schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many 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 help students establish relationships within the Montgomery medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide 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 students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Montgomery AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of 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, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.