How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant Course Near Marana Arizona
Now that you have made a decision to join the gratifying field of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Marana AZ, it's time to select a college that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake evaluating and comparing schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students begin by checking out the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their residences and then lean 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 as well. You might choose to take a look at several online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a college you must complete your due diligence and compare all important qualifications of the colleges you are assessing. And to help you with that process, we have included several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start that review, let's talk a little bit about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the kind of credentials and training that are available.
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The Role of a Medical Assistant
The job of a medical assistant can be varied as well as demanding. Primarily their job is to make sure that the Marana AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they work run efficiently. Based on the size or type 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 practitioners but may also be found working in an office or at the front desk. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other tissue and fluid samples
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Providing general support during examinations and procedures
Although medical assistants may perform almost any activity they are authorized to under Arizona law, some opt to specialize in a particular area and obtain 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
Unlike many other healthcare practitioners, medical assistants are not mandated to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, many Marana AZ health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training program (we'll cover accreditation later ) that are certified. There are generally two choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to attain a certificate or diploma. These programs usually take about 1 year to finish, some as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the basics of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to attain an Associate Degree, which are usually 2 year programs available at community and junior colleges in addition to trade and vocational schools. They are more comprehensive in nature than the certificate or diploma programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant training. They usually have a practical component requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are routinely a pre-requisite for and credits can be applied to a four 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 mandate, but is an excellent choice for graduates who want to advance their careers. Not only will it help in attaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Many possible Marana AZ medical employers just will not employ a medical assistant that has not attained certification or accredited formal training. One of 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). In order to sit for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are offered also, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Medical Assistant Online Schools
There are many accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent alternative for those who may not have time to go to classes on campus but could fit them in if accessible at home. This is a particularly good alternative for students who continue working full time while earning their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, some online programs have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses such as for commuting, textbooks and school supplies can be reduced also. But bear in mind that any requirements for clinical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be carried out in Marana AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on campus, then this approach to receiving your training might be the ideal option for you. With the online courses and the practical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges
Prior to assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online at home. After those decisions have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Marana AZ with the cheapest tuition. Although location and cost are significant qualifications, they are not the only ones. There are a number of additional factors that you need to explore when researching schools. To assist you with that task, following are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the college you select is accredited. To start with, accreditation helps ensure that the instruction 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 accepted 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 school is not accredited by one of these agencies, you will not be eligible to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Marana AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges develop their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to determine which of the certifications the colleges you are considering are preparing their students for. If you are planning on taking the CMA for instance, then of course you will need to select a program focused on that certification. Next, learn what the school's passage rate is for the certification and compare it to the national average. This is one of the methods to help assess the quality of a school's program. Of course programs with low rates are ones that you will prefer to eliminate.
Which Programs are Available? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to getting medical assistant training. You can select a diploma or certificate program and obtain entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about one year. Or you can choose to acquire an Associate Degree and receive a more comprehensive education that will take about 2 years to finish in a community college or trade school. Whatever program you decide to enroll in, verify that the colleges you are considering offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Offered? A large number of medical assistant colleges sponsor internship programs with Marana AZ area medical care providers. They are a great means to obtain hands-on clinical experience and training. They can 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 too.
Is Job Placement Support Supplied? Getting that first job may be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they obtain a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are researching provide job placement assistance in the Marana AZ area and ask what their placement rate is. If a program has a high job placement rate for its students, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a broad network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Big are the Classes? Class size might be an indicator of how much personal attention you will get throughout your training. Small classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to instructors and face to face interaction. If practical, try to monitor a couple of classes before selecting a school to experience what the teaching atmosphere is like and just 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 important that the college you choose offers classes that accommodate your schedule. If you need to go to classes in the evenings or on weekends near Marana AZ, make certain that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more conveniently with an online college, but you will also have to schedule any clinical training or internships that may be required. Also, ask what the policy is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Marana Medical Assistant College
It's imperative to start your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the appropriate training. Regardless if you're goal is to launch a career in medical care starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your life long career, you need to obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based on your individual circumstances and personal preferences. And as we have covered in this article, verify that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you plan on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you intend to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the right program you can subsequently start a gratifying career as a medical assistant in Marana Arizona.