How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Auburn Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Auburn AL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 critical issues also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Auburn 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 health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although Auburn AL medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses and Certification
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Auburn AL employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Auburn AL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including 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 offered online too. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in local Alabama medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Auburn AL is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Auburn AL or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing colleges. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when researching Alabama schools. To help 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 final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the program 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Auburn 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 Auburn AL area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive 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 choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Auburn AL area colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous Alabama medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Auburn AL healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts in the Auburn AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Auburn AL area to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Auburn AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Auburn AL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Auburn AL.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask applicants is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare several ideas about how you would like to answer them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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