How to Choose a Medical Assistant Course in Cottondale Alabama
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Cottondale AL, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few 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 responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Cottondale AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While Cottondale AL medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose 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 Education and Certification
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Cottondale AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Cottondale AL employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in regional Alabama medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Cottondale AL is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Cottondale AL or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should examine when evaluating Alabama programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Cottondale AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Cottondale AL area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Cottondale AL area schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Alabama medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Cottondale AL healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts in the Cottondale AL area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school in the Cottondale AL area to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Cottondale AL, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant School in Cottondale AL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Cottondale AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant job, it's a good idea to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers frequently ask candidates is "What compelled you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a CMA, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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