How to Pick an Accredited Medical Assistant Course near Tucson Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Tucson AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best one? A number of potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may want to research some 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 complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their duty is ensure that the Tucson AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care centers where they work operate efficiently. 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 providing 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 possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices available 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
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Tucson AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at Arizona community and junior colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Tucson AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for Arizona students who continue to work full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be completed in Tucson AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your education might be the ideal choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you must decide which kind 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 process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, some potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Tucson AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should explore when researching programs. To assist you with that process, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the school you select is accredited. To start 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 organizations 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 allowed to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Tucson AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of Arizona accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Arizona schools you are considering provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Tucson AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent way to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Tucson medical community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that first job may be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Tucson AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Tucson AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Tucson AZ Medical Assistant SchoolCourse
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision 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 choosing the ideal program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Tucson AZ.