How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School near Buckeye Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Buckeye AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students begin by checking out 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 important factors as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Buckeye AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Training Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Buckeye AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Buckeye AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take 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 also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for students who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Buckeye AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Buckeye AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Buckeye AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Buckeye AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Buckeye medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing 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 interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Buckeye AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, 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 Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe 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 school while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Buckeye AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Buckeye AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Buckeye AZ.