How to Select an Accredited CMA School Program near Princeton Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Princeton AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Princeton AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. 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 tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few 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
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Princeton AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Princeton AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Princeton AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending 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, some students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Princeton AL with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Princeton AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Princeton AL area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Princeton health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Princeton AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Princeton 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 have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Princeton AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start 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 begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get 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 addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Princeton AL.