How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Course in Montgomery Alabama
Once you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant program in Montgomery AL, it’s time to select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Montgomery AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. 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 responsible for providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While Montgomery AL medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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 Education and Certification
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Montgomery AL employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Montgomery AL employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in local Alabama medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Montgomery AL or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of researching schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to home with the lowest tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when researching Alabama programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 approved agencies 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Montgomery AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Montgomery AL area medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select 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. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Montgomery AL area colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous Alabama medical assistant programs offer internship programs with area healthcare providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Montgomery AL healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Finding that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help 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 school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers in the Montgomery AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school in the Montgomery AL area to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it’s essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends in Montgomery AL, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier 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 may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Medical Assistant Training Program in Montgomery AL
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re goal is to begin a career in healthcare 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 colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Montgomery AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Medical Assistant?When preparing to interview for a medical assistant position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask prospects is "What made you select medical assistance as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to medical assisting, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to organize several approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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