How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Glendale Arizona
Once you have made a decision 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 furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of future students start by evaluating 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 factors as well. You might choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Glendale AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Depending 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 providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Glendale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Glendale AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option 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 an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Glendale AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing 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 from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Glendale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Glendale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine 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 need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Glendale AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Glendale health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Getting that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Glendale 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 a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might 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 face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Glendale AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Glendale AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin 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 information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type 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 provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.