How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Anthem Arizona
Now that you have decided to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Anthem AZ, it's time to select a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many future students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences 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 important issues as well. You might want to research a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative 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 pertinent aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Anthem AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform 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) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, many Anthem AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially two choices offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain 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 created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs available at community and junior colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Anthem AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are an excellent option for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be performed in Anthem AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which kind of credential you want 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 comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Anthem AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to explore when evaluating schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you plan on becoming 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 agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Anthem AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to select a program concentrating on that certification. Second, 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 evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can enroll in a diploma or certificate program and obtain 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 acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to enroll in, make sure that the colleges you are looking at provide the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Anthem AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Anthem health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Landing that initial job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Anthem AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive during your training. Small 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 couple of classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the school you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Anthem AZ, make certain that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will still need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Anthem Medical Assistant Course
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're objective is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a selection 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 agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Anthem Arizona.