How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Maricopa Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might decide to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Maricopa AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers 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 responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Maricopa AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Maricopa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Maricopa AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Maricopa AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Maricopa AZ employers will not employ 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 develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select 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 about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Maricopa AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Maricopa health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Maricopa AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication 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 provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Maricopa AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Maricopa AZ.