How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Marana Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may choose to look into several 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 complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Marana AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Based 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 responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Marana AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical 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 courses. They often have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Marana AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Marana AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected 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 be graduating within 30 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 offered by the NHA.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Marana AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education 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 approved organizations 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 either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available 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 program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want 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 one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Marana AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Marana healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Finding that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get 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 possible, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Marana AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Marana AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering 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 certain that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Marana AZ.