How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Oro Valley AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Unlike most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Oro Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element requiring 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.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good 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 to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Oro Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Oro Valley AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Oro Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the school 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 intend to become 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, 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 school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students develop relationships within the Oro Valley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Landing that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive 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 attend a few classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate 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 need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Oro Valley AZ.