How to Choose the Best Medical Assistant Course Near Casa Grande Arizona
Now that you have decided to become a part of the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Casa Grande AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues also. You may choose to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have provided some questions that you need to ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The function of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Casa Grande AZ hospitals, clinics and other healthcare institutions where they work operate efficiently. Depending on the type or size 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 physicians, nurses and other health practitioners but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the possible responsibilities of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants may perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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 Education
Compared to many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Casa Grande AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs typically take about one year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component involving an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with preliminary salary negotiations. A number of potential Casa Grande AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to take the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, for instance the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Ancillary costs such as for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be completed in Casa Grande AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your training might be the right option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to decide which kind of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the colleges that are nearest to Casa Grande AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you should look at when assessing programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to verify that the school you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Casa Grande AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need 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 just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, confirm that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Casa Grande AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Casa Grande health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Offered? Landing that first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are researching 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 students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a few classes before enrolling in a college 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 school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the school you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Casa Grande AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Casa Grande Medical Assistant School
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Casa Grande Arizona.