How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Training Near Apache Junction Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Apache Junction AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many future students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of Medical Assistants
The duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Apache Junction AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities where they work operate successfully. Based 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 support to the physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and earn 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
Compared to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Apache Junction AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about 1 year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created 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 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a practical component involving an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Apache Junction AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded 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 be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good choice for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be completed in Apache Junction AZ area medical care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Apache Junction 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 must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are several great reasons to ensure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of prospective Apache Junction AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Next, find out 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 assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to acquiring 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, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Apache Junction AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Apache Junction healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Finding that initial job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Apache Junction AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may 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 likely to furnish greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Apache Junction AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Apache Junction Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the appropriate training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you anticipate 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 on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Apache Junction Arizona.