How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Phenix City AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based 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 health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized 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
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated 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 program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any 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 learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Phenix City AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose 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 start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective 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 issues that you need to look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved organizations for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, 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 Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically 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 closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Phenix City AL area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Phenix City medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Phenix City AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phenix City AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might 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 issues.
Choose the Best Phenix City AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.