How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Peoria Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Peoria AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their function is ensure that the Peoria AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Peoria AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Peoria AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. But remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Peoria AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Peoria AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to examine when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Peoria AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, 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 instance, then obviously you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn 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. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Peoria AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Peoria health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Peoria AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you select provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Peoria AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will 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 emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Peoria AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Peoria AZ.