How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care 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 approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean 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 issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Prattville AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Prattville AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Prattville AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent 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 a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Prattville AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain 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 need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Prattville AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Prattville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out 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 assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Prattville AL area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Prattville healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing 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 students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout 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 practical, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Prattville AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Prattville AL Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.