How to Enroll In the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Tempe Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tempe AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? Most future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Job of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Tempe AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose 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 Education
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Tempe AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about 1 year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Tempe AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Colleges
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Tempe AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education might be the right choice for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Tempe AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you must look at when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Tempe AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? 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 must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at 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 concentrating on that certification. Second, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the Arizona colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Tempe AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Tempe medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Tempe AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before choosing a college 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 program while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tempe AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tempe AZ Medical Assistant Program
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you must get the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tempe AZ.