How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Phoenix Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of health care 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 ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might decide to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their duty is ensure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Phoenix AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often 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 four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for students who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Phoenix AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Phoenix AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose 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 decisions have been made, you can begin the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Phoenix AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the school you choose is accredited. First, 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 need to 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many 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 prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Phoenix AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist 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 Help Supplied? Landing that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care 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 might be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of 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 certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you plan on 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 online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.