How to Choose a Medical Assistant Course in Troy Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant course in Troy AL, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (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 schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Troy AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties 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 examinations and procedures
Although Troy AL medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses and Certification
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Troy AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Troy AL employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in area Alabama medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Troy AL is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Troy AL or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools 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 several additional considerations that you must explore when evaluating Alabama schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Troy AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Troy AL area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Troy AL area colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Alabama medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with local healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students build relationships within the Troy AL health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain 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 college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts in the Troy AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a school in the Troy AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s important that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Troy AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Medical Assistant School in Troy AL
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school 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 pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Troy AL.
Why Did You Desire to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask applicants is "What compelled you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of general interview questions, so you must organize several strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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