How to Select the Best CMA School near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Phenix City AL, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their job is ensure that the Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Phenix City AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Phenix City AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Phenix City AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to make certain that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction 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 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Phenix City AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Phenix City health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer 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 indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Phenix City AL Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective 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 need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.