How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Phoenix Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Phoenix AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Phoenix AZ, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask Medical Assistant applicants is "What made you select health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a CMA, but additionally what qualities and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to organize a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the ideal choice for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Phoenix AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain 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 Programs
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated 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 school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 normally 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential 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 possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Phoenix AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Phoenix AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when assessing schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to make sure that the program you enroll in 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 must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved agencies 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, 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? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Phoenix AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also help students establish relationships within the Phoenix health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Phoenix AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? 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 furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Phoenix AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Phoenix AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Phoenix AZ.