How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Queen Creek Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Queen Creek AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You might choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their role is ensure that the Queen Creek AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions 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 facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Queen Creek 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 provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened as well. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be performed in Queen Creek AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education 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 furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Queen Creek AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Queen Creek AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when assessing programs. To assist you with that process, 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 Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 approved 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Queen Creek AZ employers will not employ 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 schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Queen Creek AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Queen Creek medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that initial job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Queen Creek AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Queen Creek AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Whether you're planning to launch 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 prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering 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, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Queen Creek AZ.