How to Pick the Best Medical Assistant Program Near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Now that 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 appropriate training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the ideal one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are extremely important such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might decide to research some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have furnished some questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Function of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be varied as well as challenging. Essentially their function is to make sure that the Fortuna Foothills AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care facilities where they work run efficiently. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for giving direct assistance to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for physicians
- Supplying general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may carry out almost any task they are qualified to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a particular area and obtain certification. Two of the choices 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
Compared to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Fortuna Foothills AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two choices provided for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one year to finish, some 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 usually 2 year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They often have a clinical component requiring an internship with a local medical facility. 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 mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some possible Fortuna Foothills AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and perhaps the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) provided by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to apply for the CMA examination, a candidate must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are available also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Programs
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, a number of online programs have lower tuitions than the more conventional on campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be reduced also. But keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can typically be completed in Fortuna Foothills AZ area medical care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide which type of credential you want to earn, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those choices have been made, you can begin the procedure of researching medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Fortuna Foothills AZ with the lowest tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when researching schools. To help you with that task, below 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 Program Accredited? There are many good reasons to make sure that the college you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you need to complete an accredited program. Two of the accepted agencies 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 eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many potential Fortuna Foothills AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited college.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to choose a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are basically two routes to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will require approximately two years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Available? A large number of medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Fortuna Foothills AZ area health care providers. They are a great method to receive hands-on practical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Fortuna Foothills healthcare community. And as an added benefit, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Finding that very first job may be a daunting task for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Confirm that the colleges you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a school has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indication of how much personal instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to provide greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If possible, try to monitor a few classes before selecting a college to see what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's essential that the college you choose provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fortuna Foothills AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will also have to schedule all internships or clinical training that may be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Fortuna Foothills Medical Assistant College
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant program that will furnish the right training. Whether you're goal is to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to acquire the appropriate info on available programs before making your selection. There are so many schools providing training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by a recognized organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective 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, don't forget to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fortuna Foothills Arizona.