How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Queen Creek Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Queen Creek AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean 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 as well. You might want to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that process, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
Why Study to Become a Medical Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Queen Creek AZ, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose health care as a career?" What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a CMA, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to medical assistance, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare some ideas about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional healthcare provider and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their role is ensure that the Queen Creek AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for 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 possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options 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 Training Courses
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Queen Creek AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Queen Creek AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who may not have the time to attend 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 degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Queen Creek AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Queen Creek AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Queen Creek AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools develop their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Queen Creek AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the Queen Creek healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Getting that first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Queen Creek AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school 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 wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Queen Creek AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate 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 online or on-campus school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Queen Creek AZ.