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Become a Medical Assistant Tuscaloosa AL 35401

How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant with patient chartNow that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate 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 issues as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges 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.

Why Train to Be a CMA?

When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Tuscaloosa AL, it's important to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to choose health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to ready some approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.

The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving general support during exams 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 earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Tuscaloosa AL CMA opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Tuscaloosa AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics 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 available at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 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 individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Tuscaloosa AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly 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 have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Tuscaloosa AL student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have 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 added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Tuscaloosa AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Tuscaloosa AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify 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. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Tuscaloosa AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, 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 example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, 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 shortest 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 get a broader education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Tuscaloosa AL area healthcare providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Tuscaloosa health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking 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 Tuscaloosa AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness 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 working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa AL Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Tuscaloosa AL.