How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant School Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsdale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest 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 critical issues as well. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Role of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Scottsdale AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work run efficiently. Based 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 medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Scottsdale AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving 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.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent alternative for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. But bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Scottsdale AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training may be the ideal choice for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Scottsdale AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, some students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Scottsdale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you must look at when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered 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 program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Scottsdale AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students develop relationships within the Scottsdale medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Getting that very first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Scottsdale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator 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 convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just 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 program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Scottsdale AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Scottsdale AZ.