How to Choose the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Chandler Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Chandler AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the appropriate training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? Many prospective students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The main point is that before you select a college you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the schools you are assessing. And to help you with that task, we have included a few questions that you need to ask all of the schools 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 available.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Chandler AZ physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. They’re responsible for both clinical and administrative tasks, taking on varied responsibilities such as answering phones; managing appointment schedules; maintaining patient records; greeting patients; coding medical information; processing billing and bookkeeping; coordinating services with other healthcare providers; recording medical histories; collecting lab samples; cleaning examination rooms; and doing basic lab tests. Some of these healthcare professionals may even draw blood, administer medication, perform electrocardiograms, remove stitches, discard biohazardous waste, and change wound dressings. These duties vary based on experience, specialized training, certification, and even state of practice.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
In contrast to many other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Chandler AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed 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 offered at community and junior colleges together with 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 usually have a clinical element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are often 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 earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for individuals who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a job after graduation, but it may also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Chandler AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps 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 examination, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Programs
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option 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 choice for students who continue working full-time while earning their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, many online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can often be carried out in Chandler AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to getting your training might be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you must choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are nearest to Chandler AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you should explore when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to confirm that the college you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in 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 school is not accredited by one of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Chandler AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passage Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to select a program targeting that certification. Next, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are those that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can select 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 one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a community college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Chandler AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Chandler healthcare community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Furnished? Getting that very first job can be a challenging undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Chandler AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator 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 increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the program you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Chandler AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in easier with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that might be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Chandler Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper 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 get the right information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make sure that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Chandler Arizona.