How to Pick the Right CMA Training Program near Vestavia Hills Alabama
Once you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Vestavia Hills AL, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to research some 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 complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" 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 offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties 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 facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance 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 many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, 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 school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Alabama community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Vestavia Hills AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Alabama students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Vestavia Hills AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Vestavia Hills AL with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the college 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Vestavia Hills AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Alabama accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting 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, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Alabama schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Vestavia Hills AL area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Vestavia Hills health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Vestavia Hills AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? 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 likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Vestavia Hills AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Vestavia Hills AL Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Vestavia Hills AL.