How to Select the Right CMA School Program near Montgomery Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Montgomery AL, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you must organize a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Montgomery AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based 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 physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of 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 basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 usually two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Montgomery AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Montgomery AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Montgomery AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure 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 schools offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area health care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Montgomery healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer 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 students, it affirms 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 positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have 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 easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out 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 essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges 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, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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, be 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 start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.