How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Apache Junction AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might decide to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their role is to make sure that the Apache Junction AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- 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 perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Training
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Apache Junction AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, a few 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 alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to technical 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 element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona 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 conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Apache Junction AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Apache Junction AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, 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 opening of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Apache Junction AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm 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 plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Apache Junction AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, 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 example, then obviously you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school'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. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Apache Junction AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Apache Junction health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Apache Junction AZ 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 health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Apache Junction AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether 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 must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Apache Junction AZ.