How to Select a Medical Assistant Program in Gulf Shores Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Gulf Shores AL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by checking out 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option 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 relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Gulf Shores AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although Gulf Shores AL medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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
Unlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Gulf Shores AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few 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 provided at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts 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 commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Gulf Shores AL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in regional Alabama healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Gulf Shores AL is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Gulf Shores AL or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when evaluating Alabama programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Gulf Shores AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? The majority of accredited Gulf Shores AL area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Gulf Shores AL area colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of Alabama medical assistant schools offer internship programs with local health care providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Gulf Shores AL medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts in the Gulf Shores AL area to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program in the Gulf Shores AL area to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it’s important that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends in Gulf Shores AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant College in Gulf Shores AL
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Gulf Shores AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a CMA?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 interviewers frequently ask candidates is "What made you choose medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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