How to Select a Medical Assistant School in Mobile Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Mobile AL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Mobile AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though Mobile 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 attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses and Certification
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Mobile AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical 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 usually have a clinical component involving 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 similar field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Mobile AL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in area Alabama medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Mobile AL is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Mobile AL or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when researching Alabama schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 accepted organizations 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Mobile AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Mobile 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 schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Mobile AL area schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Alabama medical assistant schools offer internship programs with area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Mobile AL healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a program 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 wide network of employers in the Mobile AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program in the Mobile AL area to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Mobile AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Medical Assistant College in Mobile AL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the proper 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 right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. 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, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What made you select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize several approaches about how you want to respond to them. Considering there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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