How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Course near Apache Junction Arizona
Once you have decided 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 choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by checking out 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Apache Junction AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- 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 qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Education
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Apache Junction AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Apache Junction AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. Just keep 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 earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Apache Junction AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Apache Junction AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 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 require about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Apache Junction AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Apache Junction medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Apache Junction AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical 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 responsibilities.
Choose the Best Apache Junction AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Apache Junction AZ.