How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Most future students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you should 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 training and credentials that are available.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant job near Phoenix AZ, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Medical Assistant candidates is "What compelled you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to medical assistance, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down some concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their role is to make sure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities 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 tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Phoenix AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Phoenix AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Phoenix AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to confirm that the program you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive 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 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 one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Phoenix AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin 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 naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Getting that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue working on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.