How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Maricopa Arizona
Once you have decided 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 right training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Maricopa AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Maricopa AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Maricopa AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Maricopa AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential 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 colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Maricopa AZ area medical care providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Maricopa medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help 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 college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Maricopa AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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 made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Maricopa AZ.