How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Vestavia Hills AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size 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 practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options offered 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
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Vestavia Hills AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 usually 2 year programs available at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma 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 facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Alabama students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Vestavia Hills AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Vestavia Hills AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Vestavia Hills AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Vestavia Hills AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Alabama schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Vestavia Hills AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Vestavia Hills health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Vestavia Hills AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Vestavia Hills AL Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can 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 Vestavia Hills AL.