How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Athens Alabama
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Athens AL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start 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 as well. You may decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Athens AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. 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
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Although Athens AL medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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 and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Athens AL employers would rather 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 way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Athens AL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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 sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for individuals 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 students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in regional Alabama medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Athens AL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Athens AL or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when assessing Alabama programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all 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 make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Athens AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Athens AL area medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring 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 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Athens AL area schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Alabama medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Athens AL healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts in the Athens AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college in the Athens AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Athens AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Athens AL
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Athens AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask prospects is "What made you select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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