How to Select a Medical Assistant Training in Decatur Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Decatur AL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Decatur AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals 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:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Decatur AL medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Programs and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Decatur AL employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Decatur AL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in regional Alabama medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Decatur AL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Decatur AL or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating Alabama programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Decatur AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Decatur AL area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Decatur AL area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Alabama medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Decatur AL healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Decatur AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college in the Decatur AL area to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s important that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Decatur AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need 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 because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Medical Assistant Program in Decatur AL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right information 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 decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Decatur AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask prospects is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize some ideas about how you want to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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