How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Catalina Foothills AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure 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 practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to many other medical 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 generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Catalina Foothills AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the right choice for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Catalina Foothills AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Catalina Foothills AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Catalina Foothills AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Catalina Foothills AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Catalina Foothills healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Catalina Foothills AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Catalina Foothills AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, 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 because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Catalina Foothills AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Catalina Foothills AZ.