How to Select a Medical Assistant School Program near Piedmont Alabama
Once you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Piedmont AL, it’s time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” 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 available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Piedmont AL clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. 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 providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though 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 options 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 Training
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Piedmont AL health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we’ll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Piedmont AL area healthcare 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 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 graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Piedmont AL medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Piedmont AL with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in 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 intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Piedmont AL employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the program’s passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting 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 about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Piedmont AL area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Piedmont healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Piedmont AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it’s imperative that the college you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Piedmont AL, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Piedmont Alabama?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Piedmont AL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Piedmont is a city in Calhoun and Cherokee counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. The population was 4,878 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes West of Atlanta, one and a half hours North East of Birmingham, twenty minutes North of Anniston, Alabama and twenty five minutes east of Gadsden, Alabama. The campus of Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama is approximately ten miles South of Piedmont. The city is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain chain and is surrounded by mountains on the city's southern and eastern sides. The area is home to Duggar Mountain, which is Alabama's second highest point, only trailing Mt. Cheaha by a small margin. Piedmont is a popular tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts due to its close proximity to many nearby hiking trails, streams and rivers, mountains, the Duggar Mountain Wilderness, the Talladega National Forret and Coleman Lake. Weiss Lake is fourteen miles North of Piedmont and is known as "The Crappie Capital of the World." Piedmont is home to Terrapin Creek, which is a popular destination for kayaking, canoing, camping, swimming and fishing. Piedmont is also home to the Chief Ladiga Trail, which is a paved trail utilized for walking, jogging and bicycling. The trail runs through downtown Piedmont and runs all the way to Atlanta to the East and to Anniston, Alabama to the South and West. The city's school system is an award winning and nationally recognised education system. The school system has state of the art facilities, including artificial turf on the football field and an indoor practice facility for the football team, which is also utilized as a community storm shelter. The school systems sports teams have won state championships in football, track and field and wrestling and have won numerous area/region championships in men/women's basketball, baseball, softball and men's golf. Two state highways, AL-9 and AL-21 run through the city limits of Piedmont, as well as US Highway 278. The city and surrounding area is served by the Centre-Piedmont-Cherokee County Regional Airport, which was constructed in 2010. Many surrounding communities are served by the 36272 ZIP code, including Spring Garden, Rock Run, Knighten's Crossroads, and Nance's Creek. The current mayor is Bill Baker, who was chosen by the city council to lead after elected mayor Rick Freeman resigned due to medical issues.
The area now known as Piedmont is a community that began in the early 1840s, located at the crossroads of two early post roads. Major Jacob Forney Dailey of North Carolina came to Alabama in 1848 and bought land in present-day Piedmont. Major Dailey named the area Cross Plains, and an official post office with that name was established on September 22, 1851.
In Reconstruction-era Alabama, an incident at Cross Plains affected race relations and the future of the northeast section of the state for generations as a result of the lynching of William Luke, a northern missionary, and several other men in 1870. In that year, the new northern-owned railroad to connect Washington, D.C. and the North with New Orleans was to have its headquarters near the small northeast Alabama town, at Patona. After the Ku Klux Klan-led lynchings, however, the headquarters was moved, and the town never achieved the dominant position in Calhoun County, with Anniston, founded the next year, achieving that status instead.
Choose the Right Medical Assistant College Piedmont AL
It’s important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you’re planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in What Does A Medical Assistant Do. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Piedmont AL.
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