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Become a Medical Assistant Prattville AL 36008

How to Find an Accredited CMA Program near Prattville Alabama

Prattville AL CMA with medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville 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 ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Prattville AL CMA taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Prattville AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Programs

Prattville AL medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesCompared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prattville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Prattville AL student attending medical assistant program onlineThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have the 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 working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in Prattville AL area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Prattville AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Prattville AL employers will not hire 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 design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Prattville AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Prattville medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prattville AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high 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 wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Choose the Best Prattville AL Medical Assistant Training

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. 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 plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.