How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Piedmont Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Piedmont AL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all 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 kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Piedmont AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Piedmont AL medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Piedmont AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Piedmont AL employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected 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 have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in area Alabama medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Piedmont AL is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Piedmont AL or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing Alabama schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Piedmont AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Piedmont AL area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Piedmont AL area schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Alabama medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with regional medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Piedmont AL healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Piedmont AL area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Piedmont AL area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it’s essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Piedmont AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Course in Piedmont AL
It’s essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Piedmont AL.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to review questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What drove you to choose medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some ideas about how you would like to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
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