How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Goodyear Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Goodyear AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools 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 training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Goodyear AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific 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
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Goodyear AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component 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.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are an excellent 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 solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Goodyear AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Goodyear AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Goodyear AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Goodyear AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Goodyear AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Goodyear health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that initial job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Goodyear AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Goodyear AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare 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 selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Goodyear AZ.