How to Choose a Medical Assistant School in Atmore Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Atmore AL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Atmore AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although Atmore AL medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Programs and Certification
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Atmore AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical 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 similar field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Atmore AL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 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.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in area Alabama medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may 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 Atmore AL is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Atmore AL or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing Alabama schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Atmore AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Atmore AL area medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes 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, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Atmore AL area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous Alabama medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with local medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Atmore AL health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Atmore AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school in the Atmore AL area to experience 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 college while you continue working full time, it’s imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Atmore AL, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Right Medical Assistant Course in Atmore AL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs before making your selection. 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, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Atmore AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Certified Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask candidates is "What compelled you to choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
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