How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training School near San Tan Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may choose to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the San Tan Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run 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 providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 Training Courses
In contrast to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 usually two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential San Tan Valley AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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 thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in San Tan Valley AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to San Tan Valley AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you need to look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential San Tan Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, 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 means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students build relationships within the San Tan Valley healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that initial job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays 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 select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.