How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Chandler Arizona
Now that you have decided 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 furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of future students begin by evaluating 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, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may want to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you need to ask each of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are offered.
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The Function of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Chandler AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are responsible for providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the many duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other tissue and fluid specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Providing basic support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the options available 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 most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Chandler AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are basically two options offered for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about one year to finish, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically 2 year programs provided at community and junior colleges together with trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for graduates who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in securing a position after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. A number of possible Chandler AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and possibly 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 be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for students who might not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue to work full-time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be minimized as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can usually be completed in Chandler AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start examining your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students limit their searches to the colleges that are closest to Chandler AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should examine when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the training 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 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 either of these organizations, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many prospective Chandler AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the School's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you must find out which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then of course you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, ask what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can elect to acquire an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, confirm that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you have an interest in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Chandler AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students establish relationships within the Chandler medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Finding that first job can be a challenging task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Chandler AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive 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 practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a college to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the program you enroll in provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to go to classes at night or on weekends near Chandler AZ, verify that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Chandler Medical Assistant College
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in healthcare 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 decision. There are so many colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the type of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can ultimately begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Chandler Arizona.