How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might choose to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included a few questions that you should ask all 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 offered.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is ensure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Oro Valley 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 basically two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Oro Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. One of 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Oro Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Oro Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Oro Valley 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 colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Oro Valley healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Landing that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.