How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Chandler Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chandler AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Chandler AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Chandler AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Chandler AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
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 advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Chandler AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Chandler AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when assessing programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Chandler AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Chandler AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Chandler health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating 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 students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Chandler AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily 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 may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Chandler AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chandler AZ.