How to Pick a Medical Assistant School in Dauphin Island Alabama
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant program in Dauphin Island AL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Dauphin Island AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While Dauphin Island AL medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Dauphin Island AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Dauphin Island AL employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in area Alabama medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant in Dauphin Island AL is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant program options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus near Dauphin Island AL or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching colleges. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the cheapest tuitions. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should explore when assessing Alabama programs. To help you with that task, following 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 College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Dauphin Island AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited Dauphin Island AL area medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Dauphin Island AL area schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of Alabama medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Dauphin Island AL health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers in the Dauphin Island AL area to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a school in the Dauphin Island AL area to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it’s essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends in Dauphin Island AL, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Training in Dauphin Island AL
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you’re goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Dauphin Island AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask applicants is "What drove you to pick medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Medical Assistant, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must prepare several ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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