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Become a Medical Assistant Maricopa AZ 85138

How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Maricopa Arizona

Maricopa AZ CMA holding medical chartOnce you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants

Maricopa AZ medical assistant taking vital signs of patient

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their job is ensure that the Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions 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 practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving general support during exams and procedures

Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Training Programs

Maricopa AZ medical assistant opening door for patientIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Maricopa 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 essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Maricopa AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Maricopa Arizona woman attending medical assistant program onlineThere are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical 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 formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Maricopa AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Maricopa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.

Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Maricopa AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Maricopa health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that initial job may be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Maricopa AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a college to see 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 college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Maricopa AZ Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Maricopa AZ.