How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant School in Prattville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Prattville AL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Prattville AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though Prattville AL medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Prattville AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to finish, 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 option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Prattville AL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in local Alabama medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Prattville AL is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Prattville AL or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should look at when assessing Alabama programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training 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 accepted 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Prattville AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Prattville AL area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Prattville AL area colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous Alabama medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Prattville AL health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of employers in the Prattville AL area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention 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 instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program in the Prattville AL area to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s imperative that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Prattville AL, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Prattville AL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Prattville AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask candidates is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you should organize several approaches about how you want to address them. Considering there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best candidate 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. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
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