How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Once you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fortuna Foothills AZ, it's time to choose a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors also. You may want to look into a few online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must finish your due diligence and compare all relevant aspects of the colleges you are examining. And to help you with that task, we have provided a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
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The Duties of Medical Assistants
The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their function is ensure that the Fortuna Foothills AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they may be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are tasked with giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the possible duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing 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 examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants can perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options offered are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Courses
In contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Fortuna Foothills 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 basically 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about a year to complete, some as little as six to nine months. They are developed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to technical 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 courses. They often have a practical element requiring an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Many possible Fortuna Foothills AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and possibly the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA examination, a candidate must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other 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 Schools
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs accessible online as well. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full-time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be reduced also. Just keep in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can typically be carried out in Fortuna Foothills AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the best choice for you. With the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to examining your medical assistant school options, you must choose which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those decisions have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Fortuna Foothills AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifiers, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when evaluating schools. To assist you with that process, below are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons to confirm 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 enroll in an accredited program. Two of the accepted 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 program is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Additionally, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Fortuna Foothills AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? The majority of accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program focused on that certification. Second, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a school's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Programs are Offered? As we previously covered, there are basically two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest 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 receive a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Fortuna Foothills AZ area medical care providers. They are an excellent method to obtain hands-on practical experience and training. They may also help students develop relationships within the Fortuna Foothills healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before choosing a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the school you enroll in provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online school, but you will also need to schedule any internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Fortuna Foothills Medical Assistant College
It's essential to begin your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the right 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 must obtain the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are so many colleges providing training these days that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you anticipate taking the CMA certification exam. But regardless 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 in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fortuna Foothills Arizona.