Home >> Alabama >> Phenix City >> Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Phenix City AL 36867

How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City AL medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 important issues also. You may choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

Why Train to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Phenix City AL, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What drove you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you want to address them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Phenix City AL medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Providing general support during examinations and procedures

Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer 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) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Programs

Phenix City AL CMA greeting patientUnlike 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 have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Phenix City AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Phenix City AL student attending medical assistant online programThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Phenix City AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all 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 college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of 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 Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to determine 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 obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Alabama colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Phenix City healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Getting that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Phenix City AL Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can 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.