How to Choose a Medical Assistant Program near Russellville Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Russellville AL, it’s time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your “maybe” list. But prior to starting that review, let’s talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is to make sure that the Russellville AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Alabama law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Russellville 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 generally 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent alternative for students who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Russellville AL area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the right option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform 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 individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Russellville AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Russellville AL with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when assessing programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Russellville AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program’s Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school’s passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school’s program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Russellville AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Russellville medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Russellville AL area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it’s essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Russellville AL, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enrolling in a Medical Assistant Program near Russellville Alabama?
If you are considering attending a medical assistant school in the Russellville AL area, following is some background information that may be both interesting and useful regarding your future campus location.
Russellville is a city in Franklin County in the U.S. state of Alabama. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 9,830, up from 8,971 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Franklin County.
After the War of 1812, the U.S. government appropriated money to improve a route from Nashville to New Orleans. It was named Jackson's Military Road after Andrew Jackson, and it passed through what became Russellville. (Present-day Jackson Avenue and Jackson Highway, U.S. Route 43, follow portions of the original road.)
Russellville is named after Major William Russell, an early settler in the area who helped in the construction of Jackson's Military Road. The town grew at this road's intersection with the Gaines Trace.
Select the Ideal Medical Assistant College Russellville AL
It’s imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you’re objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. You came to this site initially because you had an interest in Medical Assistant Online School. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don’t forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Russellville AL.
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