How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to 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 kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Vestavia Hills AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Education
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Vestavia Hills AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Alabama community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Vestavia Hills AL medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Vestavia Hills AL area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Vestavia Hills AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Vestavia Hills AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out 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 school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Vestavia Hills AL area medical care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Vestavia Hills medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Vestavia Hills 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 healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills AL Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate 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 life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Vestavia Hills AL.