How to Find the Best Medical Assistant School near Marana Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? A number of potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their duty is to make sure that the Marana AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Marana AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, 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 alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical 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.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Marana AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right option 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 previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Marana AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Marana AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Marana AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Marana AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Marana medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have 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 easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Marana AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Marana AZ.