How to Pick the Right CMA Training School near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short 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 offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Phenix City AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Phenix City AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Phenix City AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type 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 start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently 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 school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, 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 assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Phenix City AL area health care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Phenix City healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance 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 high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you choose provides 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 offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Phenix City AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.