Medical Assistant Overview Northport AL

How to Choose a Medical Assistant Training Program near Northport Alabama

Northport AL medical assistant checking pulseNow that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Northport AL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Job of a Medical Assistant

medical assistant with Northport AL nursing home patientThe function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Northport AL hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Northport AL health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

woman attending medical assistant school online in Northport ALThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for those 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 to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Northport AL area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Northport AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Questions to ask Northport AL medical assistant programsBefore you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Northport AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Northport AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program’s Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college’s program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Northport AL area medical providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Northport medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Northport AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout 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 possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it’s imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Northport AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.

Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Northport Alabama?

If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Northport AL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.

Northport, Alabama

Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of the State of Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa, it is currently the 21st largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 24,497 in 2013.[3] It incorporated in 1871.[6] It is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.

As Northport is adjacent to the larger city of Tuscaloosa, many residents work in Tuscaloosa or other parts of Tuscaloosa County. Although the two cities share a land boundary, much of their boundary (and historically all of the boundary) is the Black Warrior River.

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,435 people, 7,844 households, and 5,255 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.3 people per square mile (512.9/km²). There were 8,509 housing units at an average density of 581.6 per square mile (224.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.11% White, 26.03% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Pick the Ideal Medical Assistant Training Northport AL

Northport AL medical assistant studentIt’s important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the proper 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 lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Overview. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Northport AL.

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