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Become a Medical Assistant Tuscaloosa AL 35401

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant holding medical chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to research 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 need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

Why Train to Become a Medical Assistant?

When preparing to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Tuscaloosa AL, it's a good idea to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What drove you to select health care as a career?" What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must ready a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Tuscaloosa AL CMA taking blood pressure reading of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Tuscaloosa AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may 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 filing claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Education

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant welcoming patientUnlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Tuscaloosa AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a 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 earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Tuscaloosa AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Programs

Tuscaloosa Alabama student attending medical assistant school onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Tuscaloosa AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Tuscaloosa AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate 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 program.

What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Tuscaloosa AL area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Tuscaloosa health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm 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 higher 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 broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller 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 sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's essential 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, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Right Tuscaloosa AL Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing 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 choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Tuscaloosa AL.