How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training in Ashland Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Ashland AL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students start 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Ashland AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though Ashland AL medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training and Certification
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Ashland AL employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often 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 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Ashland AL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for those who might not have the time to attend 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 degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in local Alabama healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Ashland AL is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant program options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus near Ashland AL or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when assessing Alabama programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Ashland AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited Ashland AL area medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Ashland AL area colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous Alabama medical assistant programs offer internship programs with local medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Ashland AL healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Getting that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Ashland AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school in the Ashland AL area to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it’s important that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends in Ashland AL, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol 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 Ashland AL
It’s imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Ashland AL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask candidates is "What drove you to decide on medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Some Cities in Alabama That May Be Of Interest