How to Select an Accredited Medical Assistant School near Tucson Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tucson AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? A number of prospective students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might decide to look into several online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are available.
The Function of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their role is to make sure that the Tucson AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work run 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 responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training Courses
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Tucson 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 two choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed 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 typically two year programs offered at Arizona community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical element involving 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.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for those who want to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Tucson AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are a good choice for those who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for Arizona students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Tucson AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the best option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Tucson AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you must explore when assessing schools. To help you with that task, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies for accreditation are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). If your school is not accredited by either 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 available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Tucson AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you need to find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program focused on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with lower rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? 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 closer to one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you decide to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Tucson AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students build relationships within the Tucson healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating 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 a good 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 can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before selecting a college to witness what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make sure that those times are offered. 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 policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family issues.
Enroll in the Best Tucson AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Tucson AZ.