How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Drexel Heights Arizona
Once you have made a decision to join the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Drexel Heights AZ, it's time to select a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Many potential students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important issues as well. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an alternative also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are evaluating. And to help you with that task, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the schools on your "maybe" 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 available.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
Medical assistants are specially-trained health care providers who work closely with patients, nurses, and doctors and perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks associated with running a medical office. Clinical duties a medical assistant performs include taking and recording a patient’s vital signs, collecting a patient’s medical history, assisting physicians with patient exams, giving injections or medications as directed by a physician, sterilizing medical supplies and disposing of medical waste. In addition to clinical work, medical assistants perform many administrative tasks such as updating and maintaining patient charts, assisting with medical billing, managing medical records, filing insurance claims and scheduling patient appointments. With a range of duties, Drexel Heights AZ medical assistants have the opportunity to participate in many of the day-to-day operations of a medical office, hospital department or private practice.
Medical Assistant Courses
Compared to most other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Drexel Heights 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 generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and quickest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally take about a year to finish, a few as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to earn an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Drexel Heights AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for 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 also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Courses
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online as well. They are a good alternative for students who may not have 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 attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be reduced also. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can usually be completed in Drexel Heights AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the best choice for you. With the online classes and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you have to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Drexel Heights AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching programs. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to make certain that the school you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 program is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Drexel Heights AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you must find out which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will need to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Provided? As we covered earlier, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the schools you are looking at offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Drexel Heights AZ area health care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Drexel Heights medical community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Landing that initial job can be a difficult task for graduating medical assistant students unless they receive a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Drexel Heights AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a broad network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full-time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Drexel Heights AZ, make sure that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule any internships or practical training that will be required. Also, 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 Drexel Heights Medical Assistant Classes
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide 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 lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are such a large number of 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 select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the type of credential that you intend to earn or if you have made a decision to attend either an online or on-campus school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied so you can evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the ideal program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Drexel Heights Arizona.