How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Casas Adobes Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casas Adobes AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Casas Adobes AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Casas Adobes AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to finish, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Casas Adobes AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Casas Adobes AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty 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 evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Casas Adobes AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the program you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Casas Adobes AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Casas Adobes AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Casas Adobes health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Casas Adobes AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere 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 imperative that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Casas Adobes 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 still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Casas Adobes AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind 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 right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Casas Adobes AZ.