How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program near Sun City Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sun City AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately pick the best one? Many potential 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to look into several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their role is ensure that the Sun City AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities 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 practices both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical professionals but can also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing 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
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered 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
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Sun City AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 typically 2 year programs offered at Arizona junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive 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 requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four 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 requirement, but is a good option for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Sun City AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Sun City AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Sun City AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you choose is accredited. To start with, 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 approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Sun City AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can elect to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the Arizona schools you are looking at offer the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Sun City AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Sun City medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Sun City AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Sun City AZ, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Sun City AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program 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 pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Sun City AZ.