How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant School near Marana Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask all 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 kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Marana AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Marana 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 essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals 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 provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma 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 commonly 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, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Marana AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who may not have the time to attend 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 certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Marana AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Marana AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important 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, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Marana AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select 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 just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Marana AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Marana health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that initial job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Marana AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Marana AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily 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 policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Marana AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Marana AZ.