How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Maricopa Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest 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 also. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Maricopa AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Maricopa AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Maricopa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Maricopa AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Maricopa AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in 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 anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Maricopa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Maricopa AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Maricopa healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Landing that initial job may be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Maricopa AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still 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 might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Maricopa AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start 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 pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Maricopa AZ.