How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training in Shelby Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Shelby AL, it’s time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short 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 available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Shelby AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although Shelby AL medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training and Certification
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Shelby AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges as well as 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 classes. They frequently have a clinical component 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 related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Shelby AL employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in local Alabama medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Shelby AL is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant program alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus near Shelby AL or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must examine when assessing Alabama programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Shelby AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Shelby AL area medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Shelby AL area colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Alabama medical assistant schools offer internship programs with local medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Shelby AL healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Shelby AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a school in the Shelby AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Shelby AL, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Program in Shelby AL
It’s important 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 goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Shelby AL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When getting ready to interview for a medical assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What drove you to select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you would like to answer them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an exceptional medical assistant and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Some Cities in Alabama That May Be Of Interest