Home >> Alabama >> Montgomery >> Online Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Montgomery AL 36013

How to Enroll In the Right CMA Course near Montgomery Alabama

Montgomery AL medical assistant with medical chartOnce you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Montgomery AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate 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 may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Montgomery AL CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Montgomery AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying general support during exams and procedures

While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses

Montgomery AL medical assistant greeting patientUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Montgomery AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Montgomery AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps 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 exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Montgomery Alabama woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Montgomery AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed 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 cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 school is not accredited by one 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 normally 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 school.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep 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 planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma 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 elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Montgomery AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Montgomery health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Montgomery AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Montgomery AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Montgomery AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.