How to Choose a Medical Assistant School near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Muscle Shoals AL, it’s time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Muscle Shoals AL hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying 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
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Alabama law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices 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 Training Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Muscle Shoals AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Muscle Shoals AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Muscle Shoals AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Muscle Shoals AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Muscle Shoals AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School’s Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, verify that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Muscle Shoals AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Muscle Shoals healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Muscle Shoals AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Muscle Shoals AL, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Muscle Shoals Alabama?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Muscle Shoals AL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area (including four cities in Colbert and Lauderdale counties) are commonly called "the Shoals".Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state.
Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios (including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969) produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music.
Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
Enroll in the Ideal Medical Assistant Program Muscle Shoals AL
It’s essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you’re objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate Program. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Muscle Shoals AL.
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