How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training School near Tucson Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tucson AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to assist you with that task, we have included several questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
The Duties of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their function is ensure that the Tucson AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners 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:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer 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 Programs
Compared to most other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Tucson AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, some 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 usually 2 year programs provided at Arizona junior and community colleges in addition to technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent alternative 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 an especially good alternative for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Tucson AZ area medical facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the right option for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Tucson AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. 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 take the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available as well, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Tucson AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must explore when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 program is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many potential Tucson AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then of course you will need to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Available? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, make sure that the Arizona colleges you are looking at offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Tucson AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to obtain hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Tucson health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Tucson AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's imperative that the school you select offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all internships or practical training that will be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Tucson AZ Medical Assistant Training
It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate 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 acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision 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 right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Tucson AZ.