How to Enroll In a Medical Assistant Program in Pennington Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Pennington AL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Pennington AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Pennington AL medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Courses and Certification
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Pennington AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Pennington AL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in local Alabama health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Pennington AL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Pennington AL or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when researching Alabama schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Pennington AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited Pennington AL area medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine 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 naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Pennington AL area schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many Alabama medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with local medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Pennington AL healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts in the Pennington AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school in the Pennington AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Pennington AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Pennington AL
It’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Pennington AL.
Why Did You Want to Become a CMA?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask prospects is "What made you decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should organize some ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the best choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Some Cities in Alabama That May Be Of Interest