How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Fountain Hills Arizona
Now that you have decided 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 school that will provide the proper training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing colleges so that you subsequently pick the right one? Most prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues as well. You might want to research some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a college you need to complete your due diligence and compare all important aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to assist you with that task, we have furnished several questions that you should ask all of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But prior to starting that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of training and credentials that are offered.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
Medical assistants play an important role in the modern healthcare industry, providing assistance to other professionals and helping attend to patients. A medical assistant’s typical job responsibilities include preparing patients for examinations; taking medical histories; administering medication as requested by the attending physician; performing electrocardiograms; changing wound dressings or removing stitches; collecting samples for lab testing; serving as liaisons between doctors and patients; and fulfilling various administrative functions. These cross-disciplinary medical professionals work across various Arizona healthcare settings, concentrated in Fountain Hills outpatient clinics, medical offices, and other ambulatory care facilities. In some cases, CMAs (Certified Medical Assistants) have additional specialized certifications allowing them to fulfill other clinical responsibilities. For example, a CMA with a specialization in chiropractic care may assist a chiropractor during an adjustment, whereas a medical assistant who works in the office of an optometrist or ophthalmologist may help with an eye examination.
Medical Assistant Training Programs
Compared to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Fountain Hills AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are basically 2 options provided for a formal education. The first and fastest route to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to finish, some as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are normally 2 year programs available at junior and community colleges together with vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in design than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component requiring an internship with a local medical practice. Associate Degrees are often a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a 4 year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a similar field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is a good choice for those who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in attaining employment after graduation, but it can also help with initial salary negotiations. Some potential Fountain Hills AZ medical employers simply will not employ a medical assistant that has not obtained certification or accredited formal training. Among 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 take the CMA exam, an applicant must have graduated or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online also. They are an excellent choice for individuals who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue working full time while pursuing their degree or certificate. As an additional benefit, some online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary costs such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Fountain Hills AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the formal structure of participating in supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right option for you. Between the online lessons and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to work as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Prior to evaluating your medical assistant school options, you need to decide which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on campus or online from home. After those selections have been made, you can start the process of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students restrict their searches to the colleges that are closest to Fountain Hills AZ with the lowest tuition. Although cost and location are important qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional considerations that you need to look at when evaluating programs. To assist you with that task, below are some questions that you need to ask about each of the schools you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Course Accredited? There are many good reasons to verify that the school you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps guarantee that the education you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the approved 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 examination. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Fountain Hills AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. First, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students for. If you are interested in taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will want to choose a program concentrating on that certification. Second, learn what the program's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is 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 prefer to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are generally two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and receive entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will require about 2 years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whichever program you choose to pursue, verify that the schools you are looking at provide the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Fountain Hills AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also help students develop relationships within the Fountain Hills medical community. And as an additional perk, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Landing that first job may be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little help from a job placement program. Confirm 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 program has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get during your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater 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 receive.
Is Class Scheduling Practical? If you anticipate attending a medical assistant school while you continue working on a full time basis, it's important that the program you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Fountain Hills AZ, verify that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will also need to schedule all clinical training or internships that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by enrolling in a medical assistant program that will furnish the proper training. Whether you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you need to get the appropriate info on available programs prior to making your decision. There are such a large number of colleges offering 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, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate 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 evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Fountain Hills Arizona.