How to Choose the Best CMA School Program near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose 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 pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function 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 medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Phenix City AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Phenix City AL area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Phenix City AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Phenix City AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to 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 enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Phenix City healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Phenix City AL Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.