How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Program near Queen Creek Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Queen Creek AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? A number of potential 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 location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have included a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Queen Creek AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Queen Creek AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade 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 courses. They often have a practical component requiring 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 similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many potential Queen Creek AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Queen Creek AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which kind of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Queen Creek AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to make sure that the school you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become 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 exam. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Queen Creek AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, 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 assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Queen Creek AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Queen Creek health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Queen Creek AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Best Queen Creek AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical 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 decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Queen Creek AZ.