How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Marana Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is to make sure that the Marana AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities 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 samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose 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 Courses
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Marana AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Marana AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Marana AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Marana AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Marana AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Marana AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Marana medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Landing that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Marana AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout 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 practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work 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, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Marana AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate 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 on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Marana AZ.