How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Huntsville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Huntsville AL, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the Huntsville AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although Huntsville AL medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Huntsville AL employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Huntsville AL employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in regional Alabama health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Huntsville AL is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program options, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Huntsville AL or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing Alabama programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. 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 previously mentioned, many potential Huntsville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Huntsville AL area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine 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 enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Huntsville AL area schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Alabama medical assistant programs offer internship programs with area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Huntsville AL medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school 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 employers in the Huntsville AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program in the Huntsville AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Huntsville AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant Program in Huntsville AL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right 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 acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Huntsville AL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask candidates is "What made you pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must ready a number of strategies about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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