How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Dothan Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Dothan AL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Dothan AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers 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 giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Dothan AL medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain 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
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Dothan AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at junior and community 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 frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Dothan AL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in local Alabama medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Dothan AL is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Dothan AL or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing Alabama schools. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Dothan AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited Dothan AL area medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused 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 one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Dothan AL area colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many Alabama medical assistant programs offer internship programs with regional medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students build relationships within the Dothan AL medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers in the Dothan AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college in the Dothan AL area to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Dothan AL, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Medical Assistant School in Dothan AL
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper 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 life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dothan AL.
Why Did You Want to Become a Medical Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask applicants is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare some ideas about how you want to answer 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 readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
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