How to Select the Right CMA Program near Phenix City Alabama
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phenix City AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" 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 available.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Phenix City AL, it's important to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you must ready some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Considering there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Phenix City AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required 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 are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Phenix City AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Phenix City AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Phenix City AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Phenix City AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Phenix City AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Phenix City medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night 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 also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Phenix City AL Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate 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, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phenix City AL.