How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Course near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided to join 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 proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" 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.
Why Train to Become a CMA?When prepping to interview for a Medical Assistant position near Scottsdale AZ, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask Medical Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to pick health care as a profession?" What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a CMA, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to medical assistance, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you would like to address them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent healthcare provider and the best choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their role 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 responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and earn 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 Education
In contrast to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Scottsdale AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often 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.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Scottsdale AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly 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, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good option for students who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, many 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 also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be performed in Scottsdale AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. Once those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Scottsdale AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Scottsdale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out 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 naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Scottsdale AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist 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 Support Offered? Finding that very first job may be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Scottsdale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might 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 issues.
Choose the Right Scottsdale AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Scottsdale AZ.