How to Enroll In the Right CMA Degree Program near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Prattville AL, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to pick health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you want to respond to them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the best candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Prattville AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Prattville 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 generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational 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 usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Prattville AL medical employers just will not employ 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Prattville AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Prattville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Prattville healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Prattville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Prattville AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if 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 need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain 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 exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.