How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Avondale Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Avondale AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Role of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Basically their job is to make sure that the Avondale AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are authorized to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular area and earn certification. Two of the options 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 Courses
Unlike many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Avondale AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Avondale AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are an excellent option for those who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue working full-time while earning their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be performed in Avondale AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Avondale AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when assessing programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Avondale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are considering provide the type of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Avondale AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Avondale health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Landing that very first job may be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Avondale AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size may be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the program you select offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Avondale AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Avondale Medical Assistant School
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Avondale Arizona.