How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Glendale Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Glendale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is to make sure that the Glendale AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general 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 specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Training
In contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Glendale 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 essentially 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Glendale AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Glendale 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Glendale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Glendale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? 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 fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Glendale AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Glendale health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Glendale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small 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 possible, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Glendale AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Glendale AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper 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 must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type 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 supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.