How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Avondale Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Avondale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Avondale AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. 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 physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Avondale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Avondale AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Avondale AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Avondale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Avondale 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 create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Avondale AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Avondale healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Getting that very first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Avondale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Avondale AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Avondale AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Avondale AZ.