How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant School near Oro Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You may want to take a look at some 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 important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can 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 performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Programs
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Oro Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to complete, some 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 attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade 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 usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied 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 a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Oro Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended 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 schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be performed in Oro Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Oro Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you should look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must 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 school is not accredited by either 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 often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Oro Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
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 examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Oro Valley health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
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 enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.