How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Training School near San Tan Valley Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently pick the best one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors as well. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their job is ensure that the San Tan Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific 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 Programs
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley 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 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a clinical element involving 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 related field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for those who might not have time to go to 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 pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in San Tan Valley AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential San Tan Valley AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and possibly 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, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students confine their searches to the colleges that are nearest to San Tan Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when evaluating programs. 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 selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective San Tan Valley AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn 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 evaluate the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting 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, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the San Tan Valley medical community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might 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 protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.