How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Marana Arizona
Once you have decided to enter the gratifying profession of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the proper training. But just how do you approach evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the ideal one? A number of 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 extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are important issues also. You may decide to look into a few 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 finish your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to assist you with that task, we have included some 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 role of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Job of Medical Assistants
The role of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is to make sure that the Marana AZ hospitals, clinics and other medical care institutions where they work operate efficiently. Based 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 performing duties at the front desk or in an office. Some of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and submitting claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Collecting blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during exams and procedures
While medical assistants can carry out almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and earn 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 medical professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to obtain a college degree. However, a number of Marana AZ health care employers prefer to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are essentially 2 options available for a formal education. The first and shortest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about one 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 acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as vocational and technical schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant courses. They often have a practical component involving 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 related field.
Certification Options for Medical Assistants
As earlier stated, certification is not a legal requirement, but is an excellent idea for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in getting employment after graduation, but it might also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of possible Marana AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. Among the most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). To qualify to take the CMA exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available also, for instance the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are provided by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs offered online too. They are a good alternative for those who might not have time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if accessible at home. This is an especially good choice for students who continue to work full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have lower tuitions than the more traditional on-campus alternatives. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be minimized as well. But keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be satisfied, but they can often be carried out in Marana AZ area medical facilities. If you can earn a degree without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on campus, then this method of getting your education may be the right choice for you. Between the online lessons and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.
Points to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to decide 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 procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are closest to Marana AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifications, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To help you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the programs you are thinking about before making your ultimate selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of great reasons to ensure that the program you choose is accredited. First, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, 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 program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many potential Marana AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification exams. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the programs you are reviewing are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then naturally you will need to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a school's program. Obviously schools with low rates are ones that you will prefer to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are generally two routes to obtaining medical assistant training. You can choose a diploma or certificate program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is closer to one year. Or you can decide to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately 2 years to complete in a community college or trade school. Whichever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the schools you are reviewing offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Marana AZ area healthcare providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical experience and training. They may also help students establish relationships within the Marana health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Service Provided? Finding that very first job can be a daunting undertaking for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little help from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Marana AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a higher job placement rate for its students, it affirms that it has an excellent reputation within the medical community. It also signifies that it has a wide network of contacts to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classrooms? Class size might be an indicator of how much individual attention 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 one-on-one interaction. If practical, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a college to experience what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accessible? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue to work full time, it's essential that the college you enroll in offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Marana AZ, confirm that those times are offered. You might be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Marana Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant college that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're goal is to begin a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you need to acquire the appropriate information on available programs prior to making your decision. There are so many schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you choose is accredited by an acknowledged agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is especially important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. 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 supplied so you can compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the right program you can ultimately start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Marana Arizona.