How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training in Opelika Alabama
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant course in Opelika AL, it’s time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to take a look at 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 complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Opelika AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. 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 assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though Opelika AL medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs and Certification
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Opelika AL employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created 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 normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving 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 previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Opelika AL employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in local Alabama healthcare 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 best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant in Opelika AL is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant program alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus near Opelika AL or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching colleges. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to home with the most affordable tuitions. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when assessing Alabama schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To start 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 need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Opelika AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passing Rate? The majority of accredited Opelika AL area medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Opelika AL area colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many Alabama medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with regional healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Opelika AL medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers in the Opelika AL area to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program in the Opelika AL area to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends in Opelika AL, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Ideal Medical Assistant School in Opelika AL
It’s essential 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 launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Opelika AL.
Why Did You Desire to Be a CMA?When prepping to interview for a medical assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask applicants is "What compelled you to select medical assistance as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a Certified Medical Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to medical assisting, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you should prepare several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent medical assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Some Cities in Alabama That May Be Of Interest