How to Choose the Best 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 select a school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some 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 credentials and training that are available.
The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Queen Creek AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found performing duties 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 doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, 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 school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges together with 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 training. They frequently have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Queen Creek AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good choice for those who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Queen Creek AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Queen Creek AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential 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? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design 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 considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Queen Creek AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Queen Creek AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a wide 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 during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Queen Creek AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
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 program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of 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, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Queen Creek AZ.