How to Enroll In an Accredited Medical Assistant Program 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 choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role is ensure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. 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 tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered 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 Training
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Phoenix AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically 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 prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational 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 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly 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 exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Phoenix AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn 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 lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to verify that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential 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 colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in 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. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are considering provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Phoenix medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating 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 students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may 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 responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will furnish the right training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health 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 prior to making your selection. There are so many schools 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, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.