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Become a Medical Assistant Prattville AL 36008

How to Pick the Right CMA School near Prattville Alabama

Prattville AL CMA holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Prattville AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.

Why Study to Become a CMA?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Prattville AL, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assistance, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding healthcare provider and the best candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.

The Role of Medical Assistants

Prattville AL CMA measuring vital signs of patient

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

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

While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses

Prattville AL CMA opening door for patientIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Prattville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical 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 element 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Prattville AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Schools

Prattville AL student attending medical assistant online programThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Prattville AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Prattville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Prattville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Prattville AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Prattville medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Prattville AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad 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 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 attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Prattville AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing 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 choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.