How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Program near Apache Junction Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Apache Junction AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You might decide to look into 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 relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Apache Junction AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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 Courses
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Apache Junction AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Apache Junction AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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 sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Apache Junction AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Apache Junction AZ with the most affordable 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 need to examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that task, following 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 College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, 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 School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Apache Junction AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Apache Junction healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Apache Junction AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Apache Junction AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Apache Junction AZ.