How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Avondale Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Avondale AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Avondale AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties 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
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Avondale AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare 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 similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be performed in Avondale AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Avondale AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Avondale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Avondale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Avondale AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Avondale health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Avondale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Avondale AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training 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 Right Avondale AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether 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 get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged 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 plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Avondale AZ.