How to Choose the Best CMA Program near Phenix City Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain 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
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have 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 are certified. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Phenix City AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Phenix City AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Phenix City AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, 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 Program's Passage 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 need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting 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 means to help assess 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 covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain 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 enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop 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 Support Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and find out 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 suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend 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 Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work 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. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.