How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately pick the right one? Many potential students start by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical factors also. You may decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option also (more about that later). The bottom line is that before you select a program you need to complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have provided several questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your short list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the function of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
If you want a meaningful career in healthcare, Medical Assisting is a great starting point. Medical Assistants are multi-skilled allied healthcare professionals who may administer medications, assist with minor procedures, record vital signs, take medical histories, prepare patients and rooms for examinations, handle laboratory specimens, provide patient education, and much more. Because of the specialized skill set and knowledge that is held by these professionals, they find themselves working in Fountain Hills AZ clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient facilities, and specialists’ offices across the country.
Medical Assistant Training
Unlike many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, many Fountain Hills AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally two choices available for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a diploma or a certificate. These programs typically take about a year to complete, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are created to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to obtain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more extensive in design than the certificate or diploma 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 practice. 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good idea for individuals who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also help with initial salary negotiations. Many potential Fountain Hills AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not received certification or accredited formal training. One of the most popular and arguably the most respected certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, such as the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Courses
There are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for individuals who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be minimized also. Just remember that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Fountain Hills AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the best choice for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to determine which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those decisions have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Fountain Hills AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must examine when evaluating schools. To help you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the education 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 accepted 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 one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you intend on applying for a student loan or financial aid, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, a number of potential Fountain Hills AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the School's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification exams. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to select a program targeting that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course schools with lower rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Offered? As we previously covered, there are essentially two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can enroll in a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are reviewing provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Numerous medical assistant schools offer internship programs with Fountain Hills AZ area healthcare providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students develop relationships within the Fountain Hills healthcare community. And as an added perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Fountain Hills AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms 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 Big are the Classrooms? Class size may be an indicator of how much individual instruction you will get during your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to offer increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a couple of classes before selecting a program to experience what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's imperative that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all internships or practical training that may be required. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Medical Assistant Program
It's important to start your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a decision based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, verify that the program you pick is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you plan on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you plan 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 compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently begin a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Fountain Hills Arizona.