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How to Enroll In the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Drexel Heights Arizona

Drexel Heights Arizona CMA carrying patient chartOnce you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Drexel Heights AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach comparing and evaluating colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The main point is that before you select a program you need to carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the role of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Role of a Medical Assistant

Drexel Heights Arizona medical assistant greeting man using crutches

So what do medical assistants do? These professionals typically work in Drexel Heights 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 Courses

Drexel Heights Arizona CMA working with senior man in nursing homeCompared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Drexel Heights AZ health care employers would rather hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options available for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs available at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element involving an internship with a local healthcare practice. 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 related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As previously mentioned, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good choice for those who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Drexel Heights AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received 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). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Schools

Drexel Heights Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant trainingThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good choice for individuals who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good option for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies may be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be performed in Drexel Heights AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving 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 provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Schools

Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school options, you have to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online at home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating 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 Drexel Heights AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you must look at when researching programs. To help you with that process, following are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps ensure that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 either of these agencies, you will not be allowed to take the CMA exam. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, many prospective Drexel Heights AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must find out which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program concentrating on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with lower rates are those that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Provided? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about two years to accomplish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to pursue, verify that the colleges you are reviewing provide the kind of program you have an interest in.

Are Internships Offered? Numerous medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Drexel Heights AZ area health care providers. They are an excellent method to get hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Drexel Heights medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Getting that very first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing offer job placement assistance in the Drexel Heights AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also suggests that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indication of how much individual 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 one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a program to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full time, it's essential that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes at night or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online program, but you will still need to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family issues.

Become a CMA in Drexel Heights

Enroll in the Right Drexel Heights Medical Assistant School

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the appropriate training. Whether you're objective is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a decision based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have addressed in this article, confirm that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type 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 right program you can subsequently begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Drexel Heights Arizona.




 

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