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Become a Medical Assistant Tucson AZ 85629

How to Select the Right Medical Assistant School near Tucson Arizona

Tucson AZ CMA with medical chartNow that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tucson AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.

The Role of a Medical Assistant

Tucson AZ CMA taking vital signs of patient

The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Tucson AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Setting and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Providing basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Training Programs

Tucson AZ medical assistant welcoming patientIn contrast to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Tucson 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 essentially 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Schools

Tucson AZ student attending medical assistant online schoolThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good option for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be lessened also. Just bear in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Tucson AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Tucson AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
 

 

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Tucson AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Tucson AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, verify that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Tucson AZ area medical providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students develop relationships within the Tucson health care community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Tucson 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 medical community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before selecting a program to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? 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 accommodate your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tucson AZ, confirm that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will also need to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.

Enroll in the Best Tucson AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse

It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're goal 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 must acquire the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools 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 select is accredited by an acknowledged 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 online or on-campus 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 ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Tucson AZ.