How to Find the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Florence Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Florence AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you ultimately enroll in the best 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 most affordable tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You might decide to take a look at a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The responsibilities of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Essentially their job is to make sure that the Florence AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare centers where they work operate efficiently. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Supplying basic support during examinations and procedures
Even though medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some choose to specialize in a particular area and attain certification. Two of the choices offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Training
In contrast to most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Florence AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs generally 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs offered at junior and community colleges together with technical and vocational schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma programs, and include liberal arts courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They frequently have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for graduates who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Florence 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 perhaps the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are available also, including the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Classes
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are a good choice for individuals who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good option for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced as well. But keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Florence AZ area health care facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education may be the right choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Schools
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can start the process of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Florence AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional considerations that you should look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that task, following are some questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are considering before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many great reasons to ensure that the college you select is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 eligible to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Florence AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must learn which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Naturally schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to one year. Or you can choose to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or vocational school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, verify that the schools you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant colleges offer internship programs with Florence AZ area medical providers. They are a great means to get hands-on clinical experience and training. They can also help students establish relationships within the Florence health care community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Finding that first job may be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some assistance from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Florence AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has a good reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to furnish increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Florence AZ, make sure that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Florence Medical Assistant School
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're planning 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 acquire the right information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, confirm that the program you pick is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by choosing the right program you can ultimately start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Florence Arizona.