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How to Select the Right Medical Assistant Degree Program Near Maricopa Arizona

Maricopa Arizona CMA carrying patient filesOnce you have decided to join the rewarding profession of healthcare and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to choose a college that will provide the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? A number of prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then lean toward those that have the cheapest tuition. While location and cost are very important, such things as accreditation, job assistance and internship programs are important factors as well. You might choose to look into some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that before you select a college you need to finish your due diligence and compare all relevant qualifications of the colleges you are reviewing. And to help you with that process, we have provided several questions that you should ask each of the colleges on your short list. But before we start 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 Role of Medical Assistants

Maricopa Arizona medical assistant greeting man using crutches

The most versatile health professional in any Arizona healthcare setting, a medical assistant juggles both clinical and administrative assignments. Medical assistants often initiate medical appointments by escorting patients to examination rooms, taking vital signs and preparing the room for the next member of the medical team. They also handle a range of office tasks, from coding medical records to scheduling office visits. As a medical assistant, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills as you work with patients in pain and distress. You’ll also work closely with other Maricopa medical professionals, often facing a great deal of pressure. Other traits that will serve you well: analytical skills (crucial for interpreting medical charts and diagnoses) and a penchant for detailed work.

Medical Assistant Education

Maricopa Arizona medical assistant reading to senior patient in skilled nursing facilityUnlike most other medical practitioners, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to earn a college degree. However, a number of Maricopa 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 basically 2 choices offered for a formal education. The first and fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to acquire a certificate or diploma. These programs generally take about a year to complete, a few as little as 6 to 9 months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and ready graduates for entry level positions. The second option is to earn an Associate Degree, which are usually two year programs offered at community and junior colleges together with 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 classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare facility. 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 Programs for Medical Assistants

As stated previously, certification is not a legal mandate, but is an excellent option for individuals who want to boost their careers. It will not only help in obtaining a position after graduation, but it may also enhance initial salary negotiations. Some possible Maricopa AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not obtained accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and possibly the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to apply for the CMA examination, an applicant must be a graduate or will be graduating within thirty days from an accredited medical assistant program. Additional certifications are offered as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.

Online Medical Assistant Classes

Maricopa Arizona young woman taking online medical assistant coursesThere are a number of accredited medical assistant programs offered online also. They are a good option for students who may not have the time to go to classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good solution for students who continue to work full time while pursuing their certificate or degree. As an added benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more conventional on-campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for commuting, textbooks and school supplies might be lessened also. But remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be met, but they can usually be completed in Maricopa AZ area health care facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of attending supervised classes on-campus, then this mode of getting your training may be the best option for you. Between the online courses and the clinical training, everything needed to attain proficiency to work as a medical assistant is provided.

What to Ask Medical Assistant Colleges

Prior to assessing your medical assistant school options, you have to choose which type of credential you would like to earn, and if you would prefer attending classes on-campus or online from home. Once those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students limit their searches to the schools that are closest to Maricopa AZ with the most affordable tuition. Although cost and location are significant qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are a number of additional issues that you must look at when evaluating programs. To help you with that process, below are a few questions that you need to ask about all of the schools you are considering before making your ultimate selection.

Is the Medical Assistant School Accredited? There are several good reasons to verify that the college you select is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the instruction you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Next, if you intend to become certified, you must enroll in an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations 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 one of these organizations, you will not be qualified to take the CMA exam. Also, if you anticipate applying for a student loan or financial assistance, they are often not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, many prospective Maricopa AZ employers will not hire a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.

What is the School's Passing Percentage? The majority of accredited medical assistant colleges create their programs to prep students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must determine which of the certifications the colleges you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to enroll in a program targeting that certification. Second, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the ways to help assess the quality of a college's program. Obviously schools with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.

Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to obtaining medical assistant training. You can select a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, starting at just 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can opt to earn an Associate Degree and receive a broader education that will take approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you elect to enroll in, make sure that the schools you are reviewing provide the kind of program you are interested in.

Are Internships Offered? Many medical assistant programs sponsor internship programs with Maricopa AZ area medical providers. They are an excellent way to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They can also assist students establish relationships within the Maricopa health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews too.

Is Job Placement Help Supplied? Landing that first job can be a daunting task for medical assistant school graduates unless they have a little assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the schools you are researching offer job placement assistance in the Maricopa 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 a good reputation within the health care community. It also suggests 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 personal instruction you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to provide increased access to teachers and one-on-one interaction. If convenient, try to attend a few classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching environment is like and just how much attention the students get.

Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant program while you continue to work full time, it's important that the school you enroll in offers classes that fit your schedule. If you have to attend classes in the evenings or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, verify that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online program, but you will still have to schedule all clinical training or internships that will be required. Also, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you might have to miss due to work, illness or family responsibilities.

Become a CMA in Maricopa

Enroll in the Right Maricopa Medical Assistant School

It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by choosing a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Whether you're objective is to launch a career in healthcare starting out as a medical assistant or to pursue medical assistance as your lifetime career, you must obtain the right info on available programs prior to making your selection. There are such a large number of colleges offering training nowadays that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, confirm that the program you decide on is accredited by a recognized agency, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly important if you intend on taking the CMA certification exam. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an online or on-campus school, be sure to ask the questions we have provided in order to evaluate programs and make an informed decision. And by selecting the best program you can ultimately begin a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Maricopa Arizona.




 

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