How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near Glendale Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Glendale AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Most potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes 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 critical issues also. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Glendale AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Unlike most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many 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 available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to 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 classes. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare 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 Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Glendale AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Glendale AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective 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 a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you choose is accredited. First, 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 approved 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 agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Glendale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools 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 contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose 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 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 vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Glendale AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Glendale healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Glendale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to 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 practical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Glendale AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Glendale AZ.