How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Ashford Alabama
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Ashford AL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects 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 prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Ashford AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although Ashford AL medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education and Certification
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Ashford AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical 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 classes. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical 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 related field.
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Ashford AL employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in area Alabama healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Ashford AL is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Ashford AL or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing colleges. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when evaluating Alabama schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Ashford AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited Ashford AL area medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Ashford AL area colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous Alabama medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Ashford AL health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers in the Ashford AL area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school in the Ashford AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it’s important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Ashford AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still need 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Ashford AL
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Ashford AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant job, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the private 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 undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the abilities you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Some Cities in Alabama That May Be Of Interest