How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Phoenix Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the ideal one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest 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, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues as well. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is to make sure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical 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 many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Phoenix AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options available for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Phoenix AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Phoenix AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, 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 Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee 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 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Phoenix AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop 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 programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Phoenix healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Supplied? Finding that very first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and ask 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 medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan 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 so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.