How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Catalina Foothills AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of future students begin by researching 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, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist 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 talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Catalina Foothills AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Education
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Catalina Foothills AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about 1 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 option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as 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 training. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Catalina Foothills AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Catalina Foothills AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Catalina Foothills AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must complete 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 either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Catalina Foothills AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Catalina Foothills AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Catalina Foothills health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Finding that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Catalina Foothills AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the ideal program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Catalina Foothills AZ.