How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Program near Marana Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 also. You might choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Marana AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Marana AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component involving an internship with a local medical 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 Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Marana AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Marana AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Marana AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Marana AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 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 complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Marana AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Marana health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Marana AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Marana AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Marana AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program 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 life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Marana AZ.