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Become a Medical Assistant Tuscaloosa AL 35401

How to Find an Accredited CMA Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa AL CMA holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate 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 as well. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

Why Study to Be a Medical Assistant?

When getting ready to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Tuscaloosa AL, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What made you decide on health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready some approaches about how you want to address them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.

The Function of Medical Assistants

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities 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 practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Programs

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant welcoming patientIn contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical 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 related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Tuscaloosa AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Tuscaloosa AL woman attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Tuscaloosa AL area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Tuscaloosa AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Tuscaloosa AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Alabama colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Tuscaloosa AL area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Tuscaloosa medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Tuscaloosa AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have 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 easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

Choose the Best Tuscaloosa AL Medical Assistant Training

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Tuscaloosa AL.