How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Surprise Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Surprise AZ, it's time to choose a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical issues also. You may choose to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few 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 function of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
The Job of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Surprise AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain 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 professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Surprise AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be reduced as well. But bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Surprise AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some potential Surprise AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps 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 examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, 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 comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Surprise AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Surprise AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select 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 choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Surprise AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Surprise healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that initial job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Surprise AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a college to experience what the teaching atmosphere 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 to work on a full time basis, it's important that the college you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Surprise AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Surprise AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to begin 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 right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Surprise AZ.