How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program in Auburn University Alabama
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Auburn University AL, it’s time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Auburn University AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities 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 physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While Auburn University AL medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Auburn University AL employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with trade 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 courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Auburn University AL employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be completed in local Alabama medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Auburn University AL is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant program alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Auburn University AL or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when researching Alabama programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become 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 organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Auburn University AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Auburn University AL area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Auburn University AL area colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Alabama medical assistant programs offer internship programs with area medical providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Auburn University AL healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Auburn University AL area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get 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 Auburn University AL area to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends in Auburn University AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Program in Auburn University AL
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Auburn University AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask applicants is "What compelled you to decide on medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Some Cities in Alabama That May Be Of Interest