How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Casa Grande AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Depending 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 tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform 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
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Casa Grande AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option 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 nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Casa Grande AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Casa Grande AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably 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 have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Casa Grande AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Casa Grande AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing 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 want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Casa Grande medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Casa Grande AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's important that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Casa Grande AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning 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 right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande AZ.