How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Goodyear Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Goodyear AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Goodyear AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving 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 duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Education
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Goodyear 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 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Goodyear AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Goodyear AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Goodyear AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Goodyear AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, 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 instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Goodyear AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Goodyear healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Goodyear AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Goodyear AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Goodyear AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal 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 obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Goodyear AZ.