How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have decided 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 undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (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 aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Prattville AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task 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 Education
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Prattville AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design 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 medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have 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 working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Prattville AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Prattville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Alabama schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Prattville health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer 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 graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual 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 instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Prattville AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long 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 certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.