How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Scottsdale Arizona
Now that you have decided to enter the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsdale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their function is ensure that the Scottsdale AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care institutions where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Scottsdale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs provided at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often 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 stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for individuals who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many possible Scottsdale AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Scottsdale AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Scottsdale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive 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 organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Scottsdale AZ employers will not hire 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 colleges design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to acquiring 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 opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Scottsdale AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Scottsdale healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Finding that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Scottsdale 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Scottsdale AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Scottsdale AZ.