How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Program near Sun City Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Sun City 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 pick the ideal one? Many potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate 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 important issues also. You might decide to look into some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to assist you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Sun City AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending 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 responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the options available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Programs
Unlike most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Sun City AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Sun City AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be carried out in Sun City AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the colleges that are closest to Sun City AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that process, following are some 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 a number of good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Sun City AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arizona schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Sun City AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Sun City healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Sun City AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue working full-time, it's important that the school you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Sun City AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, 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 Right Sun City AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days 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 decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Sun City AZ.