How to Find the Right Medical Assistant School Program near Tempe Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tempe AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Most potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Essentially their function is ensure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. 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 providing direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Tempe AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about a year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed 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 normally 2 year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component requiring 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.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good option for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be performed in Tempe AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best option for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it might also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Tempe AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. Once those choices have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Tempe AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must look at when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to verify that the program you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Tempe AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can decide to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Tempe AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also help students build relationships within the Tempe health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Getting that initial job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad 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 receive during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Tempe AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to get the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend 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 selecting the ideal program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.