How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Program near Sierra Vista Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sierra Vista AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you need to ask each of the schools 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 training and credentials that are offered.
The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Sierra Vista AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Sierra Vista AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Sierra Vista AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for students 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 earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Sierra Vista AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, some potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Sierra Vista AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must examine when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted organizations 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Sierra Vista AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passage Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Sierra Vista AZ area medical care providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Sierra Vista healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting 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 schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Sierra Vista AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high 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 employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during 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 practical, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Sierra Vista AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still need to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Best Sierra Vista AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch 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 appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 selecting the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Sierra Vista AZ.