How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Prattville Alabama
Now 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 select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Train to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Prattville AL, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What made you select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must organize some ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Prattville AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Prattville AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics 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 provided at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Prattville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the 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 earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Prattville 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 getting your education may be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend 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 discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prattville AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Prattville health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that first job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's imperative that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are offered. 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 will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Prattville AL Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.