How to Pick the Right Medical Assistant School Near Maricopa Arizona
Once you have made a decision to enter the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Maricopa AZ, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the appropriate training. But just how do you undertake comparing and evaluating schools so that you ultimately enroll in the right one? Most future students begin by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are nearest to their homes and then lean toward those that have the lowest tuition. While cost and location are very important, such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You may choose to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an alternative as well (more on that later). The bottom line is that prior to selecting a program you must complete your due diligence and compare all pertinent aspects of the schools you are reviewing. And to help you with that task, we have included several 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 function 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 duties of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their job is ensure that the Maricopa AZ clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work run successfully. Based on the size or type of facility, they can be more of a clinical assistant, an administrative assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with providing direct assistance to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. Some of the potential duties of a medical assistant include:
- Completing insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Weighing and taking patients vital signs
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue samples
- Preparing rooms and instruments for doctors
- Giving basic support during examinations and procedures
While medical assistants can perform almost any duty they are qualified to under Arizona law, some prefer to specialize in a particular 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 Training Programs
In contrast to many other medical professionals, medical assistants are not required to become licensed, certified, or to have a college degree. However, a number of Maricopa AZ health care employers would rather 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 fastest way to becoming a medical assistant is to earn a diploma or a certificate. These programs normally take about one 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 obtain an Associate Degree, which are typically two year programs offered at junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational 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 element involving an internship with a local medical facility. Associate Degrees are commonly 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 Options for Medical Assistants
As stated previously, certification is not a legal requirement, but is a good idea for graduates who wish to boost their careers. Not only will it help in securing employment after graduation, but it may also enhance preliminary salary negotiations. Many potential Maricopa AZ medical employers simply will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and perhaps 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 exam, an applicant must be a graduate or will graduate within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Other certifications are available as well, including the CMAA and the CCMA that we discussed earlier which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Colleges
There are many accredited medical assistant programs accessible online also. They are a good option for students who might not have the time to attend classes on campus but could work them in if attended at home. This is a particularly good choice for students who continue to work full time while attaining their certificate or degree. As an extra benefit, a number of online schools have cheaper tuitions than the more traditional on campus alternatives. Ancillary costs including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies can be lessened as well. Just keep in mind that any requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Maricopa AZ area healthcare facilities. If you can learn without the formal structure of going to supervised classes on-campus, then this method of receiving your education might be the ideal option for you. With the online lessons and the clinical training, everything necessary to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Questions to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start assessing your medical assistant school alternatives, you need to determine which kind of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can start the process of comparing medical assistant schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students confine their searches to the schools that are nearest to Maricopa 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 must examine when researching schools. To assist you with that process, below are some questions that you should ask about all of the schools you are thinking about before making your final selection.
Is the Medical Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons to make certain that the program you select is accredited. To start 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 complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged 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 qualified to take the CMA examination. Also, if you plan on obtaining a student loan or financial assistance, they are normally not offered for non-accredited programs. And last, as mentioned previously, a number of prospective Maricopa AZ employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited school.
What is the Program's Passage Percentage? Most of the accredited medical assistant colleges design their programs to ready students to pass one or more certification examinations. To begin with, you must learn which of the certifications the programs you are looking at are preparing their students to take. If you are planning on taking the CMA for example, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, ask what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. Doing this is one of the methods to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Of course programs with low rates are those that you will want to eliminate.
Which Credentials are Available? As we covered earlier, there are essentially two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and get entry level training in the shortest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, however the average is closer to 1 year. Or you can opt to obtain an Associate Degree and get a more comprehensive education that will require approximately two years to complete in a junior college or trade school. Whatever program you choose to pursue, make certain that the schools you are considering offer the type of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Provided? Many medical assistant schools sponsor internship programs with Maricopa AZ area health care providers. They are a great way to get hands-on practical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Maricopa health care community. And as an added benefit, they are an advantage on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Finding that very first job can be a difficult task for medical assistant school graduates unless they receive some assistance from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating provide job placement assistance in the Maricopa AZ area and find out what their placement rate is. If a program has a higher job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the health care community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in jobs.
How Large are the Classes? Class size can be an indicator of how much individual attention you will get throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more likely to furnish greater access to instructors and face to face interaction. If convenient, try to sit in on a couple of classes before enrolling in a school to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students get.
Is Class Scheduling Convenient? If you plan on attending a medical assistant college while you continue working full-time, it's important that the program you choose provides classes that accommodate your schedule. If you have to attend classes at night or on weekends near Maricopa AZ, make sure that those times are offered. You may be able to fit your classes in more easily with an online college, but you will also need to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Maricopa Medical Assistant Training
It's imperative to begin your new career on the right foot by selecting a medical assistant school that will provide the proper training. Regardless if you're objective 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 right information on available programs before making your selection. There are so many colleges offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have covered in this article, make certain that the program you select is accredited by an acknowledged organization, such as the CAAHEP. This is particularly critical if you intend on taking the CMA certification examination. But regardless of the kind of credential that you intend 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 best program you can subsequently start a rewarding career as a medical assistant in Maricopa Arizona.