How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Program near Chandler Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chandler AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Chandler AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Programs
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Chandler AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Chandler AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded 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. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Chandler AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Chandler AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure 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 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Chandler AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program focused 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 one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although 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 accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Chandler AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Chandler medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Getting that first job may be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Chandler AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chandler AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Chandler AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Chandler AZ.