How to Find an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Peoria Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Peoria AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Peoria AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving 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 filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task 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) 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 obtain a college degree. However, a number of Peoria AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 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 an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Peoria AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Peoria AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Peoria AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are some 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 many great reasons to ensure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Peoria AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Peoria AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Peoria health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Peoria AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Peoria AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Peoria AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection 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 agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Peoria AZ.