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How to Find the Right Medical Assistant Training Program Near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona CMA carrying patient chartOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Fountain Hills AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you subsequently pick the right one? Many future students begin 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 very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. 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 prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the schools you are examining. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of training and credentials that are offered.

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The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Fountain Hills Arizona CMA holding door for man on crutches

The duties of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Basically their job is ensure that the Fountain Hills AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care facilities where they work operate successfully. Depending on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller practices both. They are responsible for providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other health practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential functions of a medical assistant include:

  • Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
  • Preparing instruments and rooms for doctors
  • Giving general support during examinations and procedures

Although medical assistants may carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a specific area and earn certification. Two of the options available 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

Fountain Hills Arizona CMA reading to senior man in nursing homeIn contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required 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 (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are essentially two options provided for a formal education. The first and shortest path to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a diploma or a certificate. These programs usually take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs provided at junior and community colleges as well as trade and vocational schools. They are more extensive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.

Certification Options for Medical Assistants

As earlier stated, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good option for individuals who wish to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it might also help with preliminary salary negotiations. Some possible Fountain Hills AZ medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered also, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Colleges

Fountain Hills Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are numerous accredited medical assistant programs available online too. They are an excellent option for students who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is an especially good solution for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be carried out in Fountain Hills AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this method of getting your education might be the ideal option for you. Between the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is provided.

Points to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start evaluating your medical assistant school alternatives, you have to choose which type of credential you want to attain, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online at home. After those choices have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students restrict their searches to the schools that are closest to Fountain Hills AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifiers, 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 all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the school you choose is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both extensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you intend to become certified, you need to enroll in an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 school is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of potential Fountain Hills AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To start with, you must determine which of the certifications the schools you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is just one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.

Which Programs are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and receive entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to earn an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to accomplish in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to enroll in, make certain that the colleges you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Provided? A large number of medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Fountain Hills AZ area medical providers. They are a great way to receive hands-on practical experience and training. They can also assist students build relationships within the Fountain Hills health care community. And as an additional benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job can be a challenging task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide 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 students, it indicates that it has a good reputation within the medical community. It also suggests that it has a wide network of employers to help place students in positions.

How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before selecting a school to observe what the teaching environment is like and how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's imperative that the college you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make sure 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 clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family emergencies.

How to Become a Medical Assistant in Fountain Hills

Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Medical Assistant School

It's important to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant program that will provide the proper training. Whether you're planning to begin a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges providing training nowadays that you can make a decision based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have addressed in this article, make sure that the program you select is accredited by a recognized agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, make sure to ask the questions we have provided so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the ideal program you can subsequently begin a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Fountain Hills Arizona.




 

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