How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Training School near Oro Valley Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Oro Valley AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their role is to make sure that the Oro Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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 most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Oro Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Oro Valley AZ medical employers simply 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 sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Oro Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Oro Valley AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to make sure that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Oro Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to 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 of course you will want to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining 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, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Oro Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Oro Valley medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Oro Valley AZ area and find out 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 suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Oro Valley AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Oro Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing 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 certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 in order to 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 Oro Valley AZ.