How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School near Princeton Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Princeton AL, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may choose to look into a few 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 complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Princeton AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose 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
Unlike 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Alabama students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Princeton AL area healthcare 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 ideal option for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Princeton AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start 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 nearest to Princeton AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Princeton AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering 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. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Princeton AL area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Princeton medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Princeton AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Princeton AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Princeton AL.