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Become a Medical Assistant Tempe AZ 85008

How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program near Tempe Arizona

Tempe AZ medical assistant holding medical chartNow that you have made a decision to join the rewarding 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 right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You may decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask each 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 type of training and credentials that are offered.

The Duties of Medical Assistants

Tempe AZ medical assistant measuring vital signs of patient

The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate 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 giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
  • Supplying basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Courses

Tempe AZ CMA welcoming patientCompared to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Tempe AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs available at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to technical 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 training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Medical Assistant Online Classes

Tempe Arizona woman attending medical assistant online classesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good choice for Arizona students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized as well. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be carried out in Tempe AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the best option for you. Between the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Tempe AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
 

 

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Tempe AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should examine when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, below are a few questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged agencies 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Tempe AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Tempe AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Tempe medical community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.

Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Finding that first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms 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 may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before choosing a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tempe AZ, verify that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still need to schedule any internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Tempe AZ Medical Assistant Program

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the right info on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges 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, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.