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How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Avondale Arizona

Avondale Arizona CMA holding patient recordsNow that you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Avondale AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately pick the best one? Most potential students start by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors as well. You may decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you need to ask each of the colleges 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 kind of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Job of Medical Assistants

Avondale Arizona medical assistant holding door for patient on crutches

The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Basically their duty is ensure that the Avondale AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers 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 practices both. They are responsible for giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but can also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Taking vital signs and weighing patients
  • Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving basic support during exams and procedures

Although medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt 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) made available by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Avondale Arizona CMA reading to senior man in assisted living facilityCompared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Avondale AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about 1 year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent idea for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Avondale AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. The most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Avondale Arizona young woman taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be performed in Avondale AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this approach to getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, some students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Avondale AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you need to look at when assessing schools. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you select 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 accepted 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Avondale AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to determine which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the means to help assess the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Avondale AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Avondale medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Support Provided? Getting that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Avondale AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the college you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Avondale AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also have to schedule any internships or practical training that may be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.

How to Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Avondale

Enroll in the Right Avondale Medical Assistant School

It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Regardless if 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 must obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend 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, make sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Avondale Arizona.




 

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