How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Training Program near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (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 examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Phenix City AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Phenix City AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as 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 courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Phenix City AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining 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 at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify 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. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Phenix City AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating 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 methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose 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 about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Phenix City AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Phenix City medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide 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. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Phenix City AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective 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 appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.