Home >> Arizona >> Apache Junction >> Medical Assistant Programs


Become a Medical Assistant Apache Junction AZ 85117

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Apache Junction Arizona

Apache Junction AZ medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession 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 appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, 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 briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Apache Junction AZ CMA taking vital signs of patient

The job 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 institutions where they work run efficiently. Based 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 responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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

Apache Junction AZ medical assistant opening door for patient on crutchesUnlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Apache Junction AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 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 typically take about one year to finish, a few 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 alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Apache Junction AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Courses

Apache Junction Arizona woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Apache Junction AZ area healthcare 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 ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Apache Junction AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below 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 Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many 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 create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Apache Junction AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Apache Junction medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain 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 program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to 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 more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.

Choose the Right Apache Junction AZ Medical Assistant Training

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Apache Junction AZ.