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

Fountain Hills Arizona medical assistant holding patient recordsOnce you have made a decision to become a part of the gratifying profession of healthcare 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 colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most potential students begin by researching the medical assistant schools that are closest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are critical factors also. You might choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must finish your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that process, we have included some questions that you need to ask all of the schools on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the role of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.

It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Medical Assistant Career Below!

The Duties of a Medical Assistant

Fountain Hills Arizona medical assistant holding door for man on crutches

The job of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as demanding. Primarily their role is ensure that the Fountain Hills AZ clinics, hospitals and other medical care centers where they work run successfully. Depending on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct support to the nurses, doctors and other medical professionals but can also be found working in an office or at the front desk. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:

  • Completing insurance forms and filing claims
  • Scheduling and verifying appointments
  • Weighing and taking patients vital signs
  • Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
  • Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
  • Giving basic support during examinations and procedures

While medical assistants may perform almost any task they are authorized to under Arizona law, some elect to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

Medical Assistant Training Courses

Fountain Hills Arizona CMA reading to senior patient in assisted living facilityIn contrast to most other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not required to become certified, licensed, or to have a college degree. However, many Fountain Hills 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 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and shortest way 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 six to nine months. They are created to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs provided at junior and community colleges in addition to vocational and technical 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 practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.

Certification Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who want to advance their careers. It will not only help in getting a position after graduation, but it can also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Some potential Fountain Hills AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained 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, a candidate 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 CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are provided by the NHA.

Medical Assistant Online Programs

Fountain Hills Arizona young woman attending online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for individuals who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for students who continue working full time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an extra benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus options. Supplemental expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies may be lessened as well. Just bear in mind that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can typically be completed in Fountain Hills AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this mode of receiving your training may be the ideal option for you. Between the online classes and the clinical training, everything necessary to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

Topics to Ask Medical Assistant Programs

Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school options, you need to choose which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online at home. Once those selections have been made, you can begin the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Fountain Hills AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are several additional factors that you should examine when assessing schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your final choice.

Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to confirm that the college 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 must enroll in 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 school is not accredited by either of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you intend on obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And finally, as previously mentioned, many potential Fountain Hills 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 create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to find out 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 of course you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the program's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is just one of the means to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Offered? As we covered earlier, there are generally two routes to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to finish in a community college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make sure that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Sponsored? Numerous medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Fountain Hills AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may 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 Supplied? Finding that initial job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive a little help from a job placement program. Confirm that the schools you are interviewing provide job placement assistance in the Fountain Hills AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a school has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.

How Large are the Classes? Class size may be an indication of how much individual instruction you will receive throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish increased access to instructors and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a couple of classes before enrolling in a college to witness what the teaching atmosphere is like and just how much attention the students receive.

Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you choose offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, make certain that those times are available. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, find out what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Become a Certified Medical Assistant in Fountain Hills

Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Medical Assistant Program

It's important to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant college that will furnish the right training. Regardless if 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 decision. There are such a large number of schools 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, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the type of credential that you plan 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 picking the best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fountain Hills Arizona.




 

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