How to Choose an Accredited Medical Assistant Degree Program near San Tan Valley Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near San Tan Valley AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You may choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the San Tan Valley AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Depending 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 assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may 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 submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many San Tan Valley AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your training might be the best choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible San Tan Valley AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to San Tan Valley AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you need to explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you select 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 need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective San Tan Valley AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting 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, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with San Tan Valley AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great method to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the San Tan Valley health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that very first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the San Tan Valley AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates 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 might be an indication of how much individual attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near San Tan Valley AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right San Tan Valley AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether 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 must get the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in San Tan Valley AZ.