How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost 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 some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Prattville AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer 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 Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed 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 method of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs 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. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Prattville AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School'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 begin with, you need to 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 naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Alabama schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Prattville health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little 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 students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may 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 responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Prattville AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.