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Become a Medical Assistant Tuscaloosa AL 35401

How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Tuscaloosa Alabama

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant with patient chartOnce you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tuscaloosa AL, it's time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Tuscaloosa AL CMA measuring blood pressure reading of patient

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Tuscaloosa AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Providing general support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses

Tuscaloosa AL medical assistant greeting patientCompared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Tuscaloosa AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Alabama community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Tuscaloosa AL medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Courses

Tuscaloosa AL student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend 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 pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Tuscaloosa AL area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Tuscaloosa AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Tuscaloosa AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must 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 naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose 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 acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Alabama schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Tuscaloosa AL area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Tuscaloosa health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Tuscaloosa AL area and ask 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 signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tuscaloosa AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

Enroll in the Best Tuscaloosa AL Medical Assistant Program

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Tuscaloosa AL.