How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities 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 centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available 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 many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Montgomery AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Montgomery AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided 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. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Montgomery AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the school you choose 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many 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 design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area medical care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Montgomery health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to observe 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 school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Montgomery AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.