How to Choose the Best CMA Degree Program near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Many potential 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities 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 facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions 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 samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Phenix City AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Phenix City AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Phenix City AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Phenix City AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Phenix City healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Phenix City AL Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.