How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training Program near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the ideal one? A number of future students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast 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 choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Phoenix AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Phoenix AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained 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 apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like 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 start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Phoenix AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must 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 instance, then of course you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Phoenix health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job may be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical 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 might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. 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 covered in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important 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, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.