How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare 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 go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Apache Junction AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing 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. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific 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 Courses
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain 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 have earned certification. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 typically two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Apache Junction AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Apache Junction AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply 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 offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Apache Junction AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Apache Junction AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Apache Junction AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Apache Junction healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little 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 school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to witness 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 program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you select offers classes that fit 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 more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol 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 Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal 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 must acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Apache Junction AZ.