How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School Program near Scottsdale Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Scottsdale AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might want to research several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Scottsdale AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose 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 Training Programs
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Scottsdale AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Scottsdale AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. Just remember that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, 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 may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices 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 colleges that are nearest to Scottsdale AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching programs. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons to make certain 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 must 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 organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally 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 Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take about two years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Scottsdale AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent method to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students build relationships within the Scottsdale health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that first job may be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Scottsdale AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Scottsdale AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any clinical training or internships that might be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Scottsdale AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Scottsdale AZ.