How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to select a school that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most future students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important factors as well. You might choose to research several online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have provided a few questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Basically their duty is to make sure that the Casa Grande AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. 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 tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the possible functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and attain certification. Two of the choices 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 Courses
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Casa Grande 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 2 options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, 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 option is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They frequently have a practical element involving an internship with a local medical practice. 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Casa Grande AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good alternative for individuals who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue working full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an additional benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Casa Grande AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this mode of getting your education may be the best choice for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must decide which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Casa Grande AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you must look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make sure that the program you choose 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 plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Casa Grande AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then naturally you will need to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with lower rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take about two years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you decide to enroll in, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students build relationships within the Casa Grande healthcare community. And as an additional benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Landing that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Casa Grande AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has a good 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 Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual attention you will receive during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the program you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Casa Grande Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will furnish the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you choose is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an on-campus or online school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande Arizona.