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Become a Medical Assistant Princeton AL 35766

How to Find an Accredited CMA Training Program near Princeton Alabama

Princeton AL medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Princeton AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short 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.

The Function of a Medical Assistant

Princeton AL medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Princeton AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Depending 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 giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

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

Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Training

Princeton AL medical assistant greeting patient on crutchesCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Princeton AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 usually 2 year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Princeton AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty 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.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Princeton Alabama student attending medical assistant online programThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Princeton AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Princeton AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Princeton AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Princeton AL area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Princeton healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Princeton 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Princeton AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.

Choose the Best Princeton AL Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Princeton AL.