How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Training School near Avondale Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Avondale AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Avondale AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Training
Compared to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Avondale AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent choice 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 choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Avondale AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Avondale AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Avondale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete 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 examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Avondale AZ employers will not hire 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 schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. 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. This is one of the methods to help evaluate 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 previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Avondale AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Avondale healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Avondale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high 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 indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small 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 possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Avondale AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Avondale AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch 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 appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Avondale AZ.